Oodles of noodles at an eatery with plenty of style and spaceEven if you’ve rarely visited Korea, chances are you’ve eaten ramyeon, or soup noodles.
Just as Americans eat hamburgers, Asians slurp noodles as a staple because they’re quick and easy to prepare.
Instant noodles are sold in plastic bags and Styrofoam cups and, of course, ramyeon is served at small, fast-food restaurants in sometimes less-than-appetizing environments.
Perhaps due to the nature of the dish itself ― it’s not exactly five-star fare ― it can often be hard to find good ramyeon in desirable locations in Korea.
Luckily, the Jinya Japanese restaurant in downtown Seoul serves a good assortment of ramyeon ― as well as its regular dishes ― in a pleasant setting that won’t break the bank.
Located inside the Uri Building in Bongrae-dong, Jinya is a traditional-style establishment where, besides the usual clientele of businessmen, many native Japanese can also be found bent over their bowls.
In fact, Jinya’s employees include a mix of native Japanese and Koreans.
It’s also very popular with nearby office workers who flock to it for lunch every day.
What makes Jinya unique is that besides its more expensive a la carte menu, it serves authentic ramyeon dishes that are filling.
Many ramyeon servings start from 8,500 won ($7).
One of the restaurant’s signature dishes is soybean-paste ramyeon that is virtually a meal in itself.
The noodles are accompanied with bean sprouts, shiitake mushrooms and other condiments.
If I were to compare this dish to a car, I’d say it’s a Volkswagen Golf ― small in size but high in performance.
The size is just about right whether for a quick lunch or dinner.
The soup is complex but not too strong, striking the right balance between providing subtle tastes and hunger-satisfying substance.
While most places where ramyeon is served in Seoul can be small and overcrowded ― where you literally have to wield your chopsticks shoulder-to-shoulder with your fellow dinners ― the setting at Jinya is truly a pleasant experience.
Good food is served quickly in a stylish, clean environment.
It’s no wonder those who have tasted the ramyeon at Jinya often return for more.
Phone: (02) 3783-7088
Bongrae-dong 1, Ga Uri Building B1
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-11 p.m. daily
Credit cards: Accepte
by Brian Lee