Slideshow: Jin: Destination-Worthy Ramen in West Harlem

Thin, Straight Noodles
Thin, Straight Noodles
There are two types of noodles used at Jin, depending on the type of broth you order. The straight noodles that come with the shio, shoyu, and tonkotsu ramen are thin and slippery with a tender bounce. Are they made in-house? No, but who really cares? Their flavor and texture do all the talking here.
Interior
Interior
The walls, made from wildly protruding blocks of wood, must be a bitch to clean every night—but they go a long way towards making the space feel fun and active, even while maintaining a relatively refined, clean, date-worthy atmosphere. Several communal high-tops occupy the front window under the looming shadow of the 125th Street elevated 1 train stop, while semi-cramped low-tops fill the rest of the space. For the best view in the house, grab a bar seat to watch the cooks busily trussing pork bellies for cha siu, dunking noodles, or stir-frying in a flaming wok through the open kitchen.
Kelp Salad ($4)
Kelp Salad ($4)
Simmered kelp in a sweet dressing topped with sesame seeds is nothing mind-blowing, but it's a good, crunchy, fresh version of the classic appetizer.
Shio Ramen ($10)
Shio Ramen ($10)
The lightest of the ramen offered, the broth is nonetheless intensely fragrant with yuzu-kosho, a Japanese pepper-citrus blend made from the rind of yuzu. A perfectly cooked nitamago (marinated egg) comes with a soft, golden yolk center and a white seasoned with soy sauce and mirin. All the ramen except the house-special miso come standard with pork belly, egg, bamboo, and fresh scallions. An extra buck or two will get you your choice of a dozen add-ins ranging from kikurage mushrooms to spicy garlic paste.
Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen at Jin Ramen ($12)
Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen at Jin Ramen ($12)
The broth is not as thick and creamy as that at Ippudo or a couple other ramen-ya around the city, but what it lacks in thick texture, it makes up in ample flavor with a great balance of pork and aromatics. I could slurp up the broth alone by the bowlful. The spicy version comes with a slick of hot sesame oil flavored with roasted garlic paste. It's worth the upgrade. The house-made noodles are amongst the best in the city, as is the meltingly tender chashu. (Full review here).
Cha Siu
Cha Siu
Their noodle soups feature hands-down the best cha siu I've had in the city. Made with pork belly, rolled, trussed, and simmered in a sweet soy and sake broth, it is ridiculously tender with a buttery texture that falls apart under the slightest provocation. I dare you to lay a thin slice in your mouth and not sit back with a contended sigh as the savory-sweet flavor gently washes over your tongue. At this moment, you can't help but feel like you're just a bit happier than everyone else in the world.