Flat Top's Older Sibling Jin Ramen Still Packing Them In
For this week's review, I visited Flat Top in Morningside Heights, the Jin Ramen team's sophomore effort. Not content with having a destination-worthy ramen-ya, the partners tapped chef Charles Cho to deliver a quirky menu of New American riffs that take inspiration from Europe and Asia. Despite a few kinks, it's a worthy successor and a pleasurable uptown addition. I also doubled back to see how Jin Ramen (3183 Broadway, 646-559-2862) is faring as it nears its two year anniversary.
The short answer? Very well indeed. In the shadow of the lofted 125th Street Seventh Avenue Line station, Jin has maintained a steady fan base of locals and the ramen-obsessed, who whisper of heady miso ramen, plump chicken gyoza, and green beans coated with salty-sweet sesame paste. These are all solid bets for a satisfying meal, and the modest noodle shop succeeds with both traditional broths and seasonal specials. Fiery Kimchi ramen sports the condiment's signature fermented funk tempered by a lighter chicken-based broth, while milky pork bone tonkotsu broth provides the backbone for a coconut green curry version.
The best bowl I sampled was the spicy tonkotsu ramen with its mayu and rayu oils, two condiments that add the heat, depth, and richness via sesame, roasted garlic paste, and chilies to an hours-long simmered pork bone broth that hardly needs doctoring. The aromatic brew swirls like a murky bog as you send your wooden ladle digging for edible treasure in the form of fall-apart soy and mirin-marinated pork belly chashu, halves of marinated egg, or bamboo shoots. Handmade noodles come straight or wavy depending on the broth you choose, but both are springy with a faint chew.
With Jin a veritable hit and Flat Top gaining more traction from the neighborhood and beyond, it's very possible that this crew has a trifecta in them. For now, we'll thank our lucky stars for the continuing trend of contemporary uptown restaurant openings.