Jin Ramen Just Isn’t Ippudo

I feel compelled to comment on Jin Ramen, a new restaurant located between Tiemann Place and 125th Street on Broadway. Although I have become disenchanted with the generic conventions of “restaurant reviewing,” I would like to offer a few notes on my experience at this addition to the Columbia family. The take-away: Jin Ramen is not nearly as wonderful as its downtown competitors—Ippudo, Totto Ramen, etc.—but its the best we Columbians have.

J-pop plays on the stereo, service is clumsy—awkward reachings and fumblings around the table—and the staff seems caught-up in a perpetual first date. All awkward conversation, no action. Jin Ramen is a pre-teen, uncomfortable in its own body but a fetish object for salarymen. On a Thursday night, the counter looks stuffed with stop-overs from the 1 line. The subway tracks rise up over Jin’s doorway: get off the train and take a break for noodles, soup, and fatty pork.

I wish the miso ramen packed in a little more complexity. It tastes mainly of salt and pork bone broth—no funky stuff evident. Unlike at New York’s ramen palaces, the pork is flaccid and uncharred. The noodles are industrial. That is not to say this is not good ramen, because it is; lower your expectations to an appropriate level.

Unfortunately, Jin’s prices seem calibrated to a downtown standard. $12 for miso ramen raises those expectations that ought to remain in place. I would rather spend my money on a pizza at Bettolona just up the street.

Once upon a time, Morningside Heights lacked a solid noodle shop. Thanks to Jin Ramen, students can indulge their tonkotsu habits without a subway ride or hour-long wait. Yet, unless prices drop—a dollar or two makes a difference—I will not be a frequent customer.

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Filed under Columbia University, New York City, Restaurants, Reviews

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