Nestled in a lively strip mall 20 minutes away from Emory University by car, Jinya Ramen Bar in Buckhead saves Atlanta residents quite a bit of money by serving authentic Japanese foods that are difficult to find outside Japan itself.
I visited Jinya on Feb. 5 and found it had a wide variety of delicious appetizers to choose from, including mini tacos with a Japanese touch and small plates of cooked vegetables or meats. The restaurant is vegetarian and vegan friendly, which made it easy for me to make my selection as a vegetarian myself.
Upon entry, customers are greeted by trendy hanging lights and wall decor that create a sleek, modern vibe. There are long wooden tables surrounded by a neat row of bar chairs. I sat opposite the kitchen to watch the food be prepared. Behind stacks of red and black ramen bowls, the chefs work quickly and methodically to whip up ramen bowls, salads and Japanese curry. The lovely aroma of spices, broth, noodles and vegetables lingers in the air, adding to the homey feel of the restaurant.
I ordered the caramelized cauliflower, which had a warmth to it that reminded me of home cooked food. The cauliflower had the perfect balance between tenderness and crispiness, was lightly roasted and salted and was topped with pine nuts and a delicious lime sauce.
The restaurant accommodates its customers’ preferences for spice, laying out an assortment of different hot sauces at every table. Adding a bit of chili sauce to this dish helped me bring out its zestiness and appealed to the spice-lover inside me.
Having gone to this restaurant twice before leaving Atlanta due to the pandemic, I was eager to order the spicy garlic edamame, which is what made Jinya memorable to me. The edamame was unlike any I have ever had at a restaurant before: soft, succulent and covered in a spice rub of red chili powder, salt and garnished with pieces of garlic. However, I was disappointed to hear from my server that this was taken off the menu. I urge them to reconsider placing it back on.
This disappointment did not last long, though, as the amazing main courses made up for it. I went to Japan three years ago and had yet to find ramen as authentic, well-balanced and flavorful until I had the good fortune of stumbling upon Jinya Ramen Bar.
I ordered the spicy creamy vegan ramen, a wonderful option for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. The vegetable broth was rich and creamy with splotches of chili and garlic oil that added flavor without making the texture overwhelmingly oily. The broth was topped with soft tofu, onion, green onion and spinach, and garnished with crispy onion, garlic chips and sesame seeds.
Jinya also added a wide variety of toppings to the menu so customers could customize their ramen as they saw fit, and I decided to add a soft boiled egg to mine. The noodles themselves were thick and absorbed the flavor of the rich broth. It was evident that they were prepared fresh, and the whole meal in general was hearty and felt comforting in the face of the cold weather.
Along with the comforting food, the bustling atmosphere of the restaurant with its lively chatter quickly uplifted my spirits. The ramen bar itself is medium sized, but the large number of customers helps to foster a cozier atmosphere. A popular franchise, the Buckhead Jinya location opened in 2017, joining the Sandy Springs, Duluth, Alpharetta and Buford locations along with franchises across the country.
For being in business for just a few years, the location is always packed with happy customers. In fact, the weekend that I went, there was a thirty-minute wait time to enjoy this culinary experience.
While the food here is delectable, and the atmosphere is capable of brightening anyone’s mood, the wonderful service cannot be ignored. The servers are polite and friendly, open to offering suggestions and receptive to accommodating customers’ dietary needs.
Overall, I had a very pleasant dining experience with Jinya Ramen Bar in Buckhead. The ramen is unparalleled, the ambience is spirited and inviting, the service is top notch and the pricing of the food is very affordable considering the location. Whether you’re a ramen enthusiast or are just looking for a hearty, comforting meal on a chilly weekend night, I would recommend checking out Jinya Ramen Bar in Buckhead. You will not be disappointed.