Restaurant

Jinya, Colorado’s First Japanese Ramen Chain

Shots taken on Saturday, August 22nd and the 29th, 2020

Having been in Los Angeles for a decade and a half, I have seen how Japanese/Japanese-American based ramen chains have driven the popularity of ramen throughout L.A. and the U.S., and now Colorado gets one.

Ramen had not been anywhere near as popular in Los Angeles in the early 2000s as it is now, and the ramen ya’s that did exist weren’t all that great. Luckily, a few Japanese-American and Japanese based chains had set a high benchmark to drive the popularity of ramen throughout Los Angeles and the rest of the U.S. (you can read my post on ramen chains in Los Angeles here).

Photo Description: a black business card sized laminated card with a QR code to download the Jinya menu (PDF). Along the bottom there is the text "@jinyaramenbar," along with the facebook, twitter, instagram, and youtube logos.
If you are looking for the menu, click the link below for the PDF version…. just look at those masculine fingers.

Without Chains Like Jinya in Rural Areas, You Would Only Have Hack Businesses Capitalizing on the Popularity of Ramen.

Since there are very few Japanese in Colorado (11.5k), unlike California (272k), the vast majority of Japanese restaurants in Colorado are not owned or operated by Japanese. So, what you get are quasi Thai, Chinese, Korean, to any restaurant owner wanting to serve up instant ramen kits supplied by food suppliers. Since they are paying a premium to the food suppliers, their prices are ridiculously high $14-18 (most ramen in L.A. ranges from $9-13).

I Was Not a Fan of Jinya in L.A., But in Colorado, I Am Happy They Are Here.

I had gone to the Jinya in Costa Mesa, across from Newport Beach Lamborghini (yea, it’s in Costa Mesa, but they used to be down the street from me in Newport tho), but that location went out of business along with a number of their other locations. Jinya will struggle to expand in California although, in Colorado, I expect to see this franchisee do very well here.

(*hint *hint Tokyo Table aka ToriDoll, Colorado is where you need to be).

Cheesy

Upfront, I didn’t bust out the DSLR, and instead I lazily turned to my iPhone which is where that blur, and star effect is from. Yours truly, my oily hands on the lens.

Photo Description: entry way with a ramp with large dark tiles, a brick looking wall with a geisha mural, and two bar height tables.
Only in the U.S. do ramen ya’s look this bougie, and they are never this big (except in a Murica, the places match the physical size of the population).

The front entrance: right when you enter, they have the omotenashi vibe down because they hired the right people (hopefully they can maintain it).

Photo Description: bar seating, directly in front of their POS system with an entire row of Suntory whisky and other products lined up on the shelves.
A bar in a ramen bar…. I’m not complaining.

I like my bar seating, and I can’t see myself sitting at a table at a ramen ya even though I chose to sit at the bar (hey, it’s still “bar” style seating).

Photo Description: the ramen bar area with two of their employees sitting at the bar eating. It's slightly after lunch hours, so it is not that busy.
A shout out to Holy and Sophia (that restaurant group that owns Kung Fu tea, Bronze Empire, etc. only hires this good of people).

For a truly Japanese experience, sit at the actual ramen bar. BTW, I think this is the work of Ikedo Design which is a Japanese/Japanese American architectural firm based out of the San Diego, Solana Beach area (the main dude at Ikedo is a native of Yokohama, Japan).

Photo Description: 6-pieces of gyoza with the crispy bottoms facing up.
This is the b*tch work you have to do if you work BOH, making these by hand… each and every one (not saying they do at Jinya, but most legit places do).

If you’re going to do a side at a ramen ya, you got to do gyoza $7 or chahan (I think they have fried rice).

Photo Description: a close up shot of the inside of the gyoza, a bite is taken out, so that you can see the pork filling with green onions in it.
Buuuut, if you go to most places in Colorado they are serving you pre-made ones right out of the freezer.

Be sure to ask for the gyoza sauce which is usually shoyu (soy sauce), vinegar, and sesame/chili oil.

The tonkotsu black $14 (the “black” must be the mayu “burnt garlic oil” at the bottom in the 6 o’clock position).

Damn Jinya (sounds like Martin Lawrence saying “dammnn Gina”), but this a bukkakefest of ingredients.

It’s like a bowl of Kumamoto (mayu) and Hakata (“red sauce”) all lumped together in one bowl of Kyushu style.

Yup chashu, aka braised pork belly (typically braised, typically pork belly, and typically delicious).

A thinner Hakata style noodle although not exactly like one, it’s still good tho

It’s so good to finally be in a ramen ya where they know that there is not just one type of ramen noodle like every other place in Colorado that uses the same one.

A whole lot more appetizing than what the Governor in the Walking Dead had in his fish tanks/aquariums.

Fresh garlic (ninniku) go hand’n’hand with tonkotsu (pork broth).

Time to get some frustration out which is not an issue with me.

Those grabby hands of yours can be used for other things such as crushing garlic.

Yea, I go H.A.M. when it comes to garlic.

My Second Visit

I’m saddened that my go to spot, Zoe Ma Ma is not open on the weekends because I love noodles which is why I gave in and ate at Jinya again (really, i’m not complaining since they have such a great staff).

Finally Colorado has a somewhat proper representation of Japanese ramen even though Jinya is Japanese-American chain.

This is why I specifically went back because their Jinya Tonkotsu Black I consider super basic and muddled. The broth is too basic, and the mayu (burnt garlic oil) is not helping which is why I was excited to see that they had the Cha Cha Cha ramen (lamest eff’n name) on their menu. The other thing I was not happy about was the $17.50 price which is more expensive than Mensho SF and is on par with Ichiran in New York, WTF…. it’s Jinya.

You might just see a bowl here, but what I see is a BOH (kitchen staff) that gives a chit…. food doesn’t plate itself this nicely by itself.

Thick noodles, a fish tare, and moyashi… just the way I like it.

It’s so common place to find a variety of styles of noodles throughout LA’s ramen ya’s, so it’s great to have Jinya here because you can try the varying bowls and how the noodles will impact your overall experience.

This is the ONLY bowl of ramen I have tried at Jinya where I would go back for, because it tastes Japanese due to the fish-based dashi. I also like iekei and Jiro style ramen, so thick noodles with a heavy broth like this is the perfect match, and if you have had Japanese ramen before, I highly suggest you throw down for it too.

Jinya Ramen

(720) 826-8262
1710 Wynkoop Street
(across the street from Union Station)
Denver, Colorado 80202

www.jinya-ramenbar.com

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