Broke college students and instant ramen are an inseparable pair; it’s hard to go wrong with an easy meal that can cost less than fifty cents. But the sad truth is that Top Ramen cannot compare to the real stuff. Luckily, for an authentic ramen that manages to satisfy a craving for something nostalgic while also tasting much better than anything you can buy in store, BC students do not need to look further than JINYA Ramen Bar.
Although JINYA is an international chain, its only Washington location is in Crossroads Mall, just minutes from Bellevue College’s campus. The restaurant is somewhat small for the hordes of hungry people that cram the place on Friday nights, but on Sundays or other weekdays, there is rarely a wait. JINYA is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, and their generous hours are perfect for a student with an abysmal sleep schedule.
JINYA offers a robust menu of ramen, each of which can be customized to individual tastes. They also offer an option to build your own ramen using the vast options in the ado-ons menu. For first-time diners who want a Top-Ramen-but-better experience, the Old Skool ramen dresses up the familiar instant noodle with pork, a soft boiled egg, bamboo shoots and green onions. More adventurous diners cannot go wrong with the Sprouting Up ramen, which shines with crispy Brussel sprouts, spicy bean sprouts, green onion, a soft-boiled egg and pork. I love ordering this with fresh garlic, which can be added for free, and with an extra egg, as JINYA’s eggs are phenomenal and one is not enough.
A word of caution to first-time diners: JINYA’s ramen bowl portions are huge. If you cannot eat a large amount of food by yourself, bring a friend and split a bowl. In the unlikely circumstance that one ramen bowl is not enough to satisfy your hunger, however, JINYA offers refills of both broth and noodles, allowing you to double your ramen experience for a simple refill charge.
Ramen is JINYA’s specialty, but their appetizers are also excellent. I highly recommend their salmon poke mini tacos, which is delicious salmon poke wrapped in a crispy wonton shell and topped with cilantro. Be warned, however: the mini tacos are very small and you will probably not want to split one. JINYA also offers edamame, pork gyoza, and their own take on the traditional pork bun.
In case you bring a guest who does not love ramen, JINYA also offers poke and curry bowls. Their California poke bowl offers generous portions of salmon, spicy tuna, shrimp, seaweed salad, avocado, and cilantro and can be split as an appetizer or eaten on its own as a meal.
One taste of JINYA’s ramen and you’ll swear of instant noodles forever. Do yourself a favor and give JINYA a try the next time you have a spare twenty dollars in your pocket.