What makes a great bowl of ramen? Besides its intoxicating effects from the surge of endorphins released with each forceful slurp, a quality bowl boils down to the basics: piping hot, punchy broth loaded with still firm noodles and artfully segmented toppings.
Jinya Ramen Bar, a Tokyo-based franchise, which boasts numerous locations in North America (including, for a time, one in Pacific Beach), is making waves with its holy trinity of broths and additions like pork and chicken "oil" that mix and mingle to form the base of 12 distinctive options. Thick, wavy noodles, or thin, straight ones are available, made offsite for the Jinya family of restaurants.
But the Tokyo yatai is perhaps the most unique. While the restaurant was still in Pacific Beach, we sat down at Jinya to deconstruct the perfect bowl of ramen.
Chicken and pork clear broth: The base of every style of ramen at Jinya is made from mixing different ratios of their master broths. In this case, piping hot chicken and pork bone broths combine for a clear presentation, with a lighter mouth feel and depth of flavor at once.
Seared chicken chashu: These smooth, tender slices of white breast meat soak up the robust broth and still maintain their own, delicate flavor. Pork belly who?
Tokyo negi: Japanese green onions are less pungent, slightly sweet and briefly meet the grill before topping your bowl.
Green leaf: Bitter, spinach-like greens provide a subtle yet delicious contrast to the already comforting soup.
Bamboo shoot: One of the most common sightings in a bowl of ramen - braised bamboo shoots with their earthy, woodsy flavor - also top the Tokyo yatai.
Shredded red pepper: Disperse these brilliant, fiery strings throughout your ramen and enjoy bursts of flavorful heat.
Seasoned egg: This soft boiled egg takes a dip in a sweet soy sauce marinade before becoming your new, favorite ramen accessory.
Fried onions: Subtle yet delectable, much like the other toppings in this bowl, these crispy accents are a sweet, crunchy addition to the savory noodle soup.
Thin noodles: Thin noodles (made off site specifically for the Jinya family of restaurants) act like a net and capture all the subtle accoutrements within Toyko yatai, before your chopsticks meet your mouth again and again.
Amy T. Granite is a dauntless eater who started writing about food in San Diego in 2006 until recently moving to Portland. You can follow Granite and her tasty adventures on Twitter and Instagram @saysgranite.
Editors note: This story was originally published on DiscoverSD.com on Nov. 18, 2015.