Aside from sushi, a favorite childhood food in the family is ramen — either the Chinese or the Japanese variety. Chinese ramen made with thick, flat egg noodles, clear chicken stock, chicken chunks, scallions, and hard-boiled egg is always a simple, easy snack that’s as good as any comfort food. As I grew older, my preference has leaned more towards the Japanese version. Maybe it’s my love affair with pork. Or my fascination with everything Japanese which started when I was 14, my first of many trips to Tokyo where I tasted the very best ramen (and sushi). Since then, Japanese ramen is something I eat regularly, whether in hot or cold weather.
Yakitori Jinbei is one of the best places for ramen. The Tonkotsu ramen is just absolutely fabulous and the very best in the city. The creamy pork broth, simmered for hours, is deep in flavor, rich, and, yes, creamy which you will never get with shortcuts. Instead, it’s a labor of love, consisting of days boiling in the pot to let the bones break down into a milky sheen (something no milk can ever accomplish). The ramen has structure and bite and made of long noodles that will stretch for a good bit before snapping. The roasted pork topping is exceptional. It is enveloped in crispy fat, a true measure in good Japanese roast pork. To say this soup is fantastic would be a gross understatement. It is simply perfect.
Their Shoyu ramen, seasoned with soy sauce, is Tokyo-style – the dashi taste is very distinguishable and adds depth. Soy sauce is used both for additional flavor (although it doesn’t overpower) and color. It is very good, light and savory; just not as awesome as the tonkotsu broth.
I am not very big on chopped raw fish (think spicy tuna rolls) mainly because scraps of fish are usually used; and, I prefer the texture of sliced raw fish more than minced. I was surprised to see the Negitoro Bowl (Negitoro Yukke) with pretty good quality fatty tuna. The texture is silky smooth and tasted very fresh. However, it hardly has the requisite sliced scallions that give this dish a hint of oniony taste. The raw quail egg adds a slight smoky, earthy flavor to the minced fish and compensates for the omission.
If you’ve visited during dinner time, then you already know this place has the best yakitori and kushiyaki items. The chicken pieces are well seasoned and perfectly grilled, and go really well with the ramen.
Next up: the Ramen Wars — places for the best ramen in town. Stay tuned.
2421 Cobb Pkwy SE
Smyrna, GA 30080
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