Surprise, long-time readers! Ramen makes it in to my 100 favorites list again this year. But this time, it's from Costa Mesa newcomer Jinya Ramen Bar, and their chicken ramen is a phenomenal, left-field version.
It's left-field because the chicken stock is white and murky instead of golden and clear. Jinya makes their chicken broth in the same manner of aggressive boiling employed in their pork tonkotsu soup, which extracts the protein and marrow inside the bones. We've talked before about tonkotsu soup being the de facto local style of OC ramenyas, and Jinya also makes a fantastic version of this rich pork stock. But nowhere else can you find an equally rich, deeply flavored chicken soup.
In place of the slices of the usual pork chashu, this bowl comes with chicken chashu instead. Pieces of dark meat chicken are cooked in a soy sauce-based reduction that deeply penetrates the chicken. There's the usual secret-recipe stuff in there that they're not going to divulge, so you'll have to trust me when I tell you Jinya's soup ranks right at the top of the OC ramenya heap.
If you don't eat pork but still want a rich soup that doesn't cheat you out of the tonkotsu ramen experience, Jinya's chicken ramen is really the only game in town. Good thing the only option is tear-inducingly delicious.
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97. Hawaiian Ahi Poke at California Fish Grill
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