First Bite: Steaming Noodles in a Sleek Spot
Jinya Ramen Bar debuts in Pleasanton.
Before critiquing the new Jinya Ramen Bar in Pleasanton’s Asian-accented Pacific Pearl shopping mall, I revisited Walnut Creek’s tiny Ramen Hiroshi—the top pick from Diablo’s noodle roundup published last winter. While Jinya, just two weeks in, can’t match Hiroshi for pure satisfaction, the nationwide chain has a lot going for it.
Jinya's sleek, high-energy dining room is a study in modern restaurant design: exposed brick, weathered wood, and Edison light bulbs; a fetching communal table, free-standing sake bar, and counter seating at the exhibition kitchen; and—for splash—a steaming stone “aquarium” and glowing geometric wall installations.
While waiting for your ramen, skip the Jinya bun, a goopy affair that only suffocates the meltingly tender chashu (pork belly) inside, and opt for the spicy tuna tacos: crunchy wonton shells stuffed with finely minced ahi, jalapeño, and cilantro. From the dozen ramen bowls—which include Old Skool, Lobster Make Me Happy, and trendy versions topped with crispy brussels sprouts—we tried two pork classics: tonkotsu with chashu and thin noodles, and miso with ground pork and thick noodles. The tonkotsu—with its pool of dark, spicy, sweet sauce; generous rounds of succulent meat; and whole soft-boiled egg—was well constructed, but the broth itself lacked depth. The miso was more substantial, but the pork proved lackluster.
In sum, with its well-meaning (if awkward) service and long waits for food, Jinya is experiencing growing pains, but it’s definitely a spot to revisit.
2693 Stoneridge Dr., Ste. 103, Pleasanton, (925) 201-3050, jinya-ramenbar.com. Lunch and dinner daily.