Robata Jinya is a ramen house in West Hollywood with a very modern, hip look to it, which is probably important if you want to be a big name restaurant in Hollywood. We were among the first patrons of the day and were promptly seated.
All of the broths they make are some variation of my all time favorite, tonkotsu. They have shio tonkotsu, shoyu tonkotsu, miso tonkotsu, and spicy tonkotsu broths. Our whole party chose to get the house special shio tonkotsu, which they only make 20 servings of per day. We also got a few other dishes on the side.
The sushi and rolls were good, but not amazing. They were of your run of the mill sushi joint variety. The clean, simple presentation definitely makes for nice photos though.
The chashu pork bowls were not what I expected. Their chashu pork is not the chashu pork that I am accustomed to. In fact, it tasted just like jang jo reem (장조림), a korean dish made with beef cooked in soy sauce. It was salty and a bit tough to chew.
There was one dish that really stood out, the Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna. I have never had anything like it, so it caught me off guard. The base of the dish is made with cakes of rice fried to a golden-brown crisp on the outside while maintaining a soft, pillowy inside. The textural contrast is amazing. On top of the hot, crispy rice is cool spicy tuna. Finally, the whole thing is topped off with a slice of jalapeno.
I’ll say it now, this was easily my favorite part of the meal. The dish is perfect in just about every way.
The ramen was another one of those “good but not great” dishes. Maybe I’m just spoiled by Daikokuya (previously reviewed); I tend to judge all other ramens against their's. Let’s take the shio tonkotsu ramen part by part.
First of all, the noodles. You get the choice between thick and thin noodles. Everyone got the thin while my cousin went with the thick noodles. I enjoyed my noodles, they had snap without being overly tough. Perfectly cooked; think al dente. The thick noodles on the other hand were too chewy. I would definitely pick thin over thick here.
The broth was a mix of tonkotsu and shio (salt). As I mentioned earlier, they only make 20 servings of this broth per day, which is why we went so early. Sadly, I did not think it lived up to the hype of exclusivity (the early bird gets the worm). A good tonkotsu broth is thick, almost creamy, fatty, and chock full of flavor. The broth here was not as thick and flavorful as I would have liked. In my book, straight tonkotsu is the only way to go.
Now, the toppings. The pork was the same disappointing pork used in the chashu pork bowl. It was far too salty for the ramen. However, in the ramen, it was sliced and boiled rather than chopped and dry, so it was definitely better. The absence of the almighty egg was another disappointment for me (again, spoiled by Daikokuya). The vegetables cut through the fatty broth nicely and were refreshing in between slurps of noodles and soup. Finally, I loved the addition of the fried onion straws, but then again, I have a soft spot of onion straws. These will (obviously) lose their crispiness and get lost once mixed into the broth, so I do not think they are very necessary. Still, a nice touch nonetheless!
Although I may have downplayed Robata Jinya, it is still a nice ramen shop that makes a good bowl of ramen. I definitely recommend the crispy rice with spicy tuna though. If I was in the area, I would go and get a couple orders of just that and I would be a very happy man. Ultimately, I would point you in the direction of Daikokuya if you wanted a great bowl of tonkotsu ramen, but check out Robata Jinya and make the decision for youself!
Robata Jinya 8050 W 3rd St Los Angeles, CA 90048 (323) 653-8877 www.jinya-la.com