Phaedra Cook is eating her way through Houston and counting down her 100 favorite dishes of 2015. It's a collection of personal favorites that is also indicative of Houston dining. It's a scene where a vast range of dishes coexist: highbrow and lowbrow; local and international; cheap and expensive; modern cuisine and beloved tenets — and everything in between.
Ramen enthusiasts argue long and loudly about their favorite ramens and where to get them. It's all part of the fun. There are so many nuances to discuss that there's plenty to argue about. Tonkotsu, miso or shoyu? Thin noodles or thick? Quality is a huge factor — as is personal preference.
A friend of mine recently swore that the best ramen to get at JINYA was the tonkotsu white with thick noodles. I have to agree on the thick noodles, which are nicely chewy without being too tough, and love the lip-smacking richness of tonkotsu. However, I personally enjoy the hefty dash of garlic oil in the black tonkotsu that makes it seem more complex and mysterious.
It normally comes with the thin noodles, but JINYA is happy to substitute the thick ones by request. There are meaty slices of pork chashu (rolled pork belly) balanced on top of the broth and noodles and kikurage, or wood ear mushrooms, which have a fun, rubbery texture similar to squid.
As with many types of ramen, JINYA’s tonkotsu black comes with a soft-boiled egg, the exterior browned to a lovely fawn color thanks to its extended marinade in soy. Fried onion, garlic chips and green onion all serve to give their own unique punches of pleasantly pungent smells and textures.
With that said, many of JINYA’s ramen selections are very worthy and the fun is in trying as many as possible. There are hundreds of possible combinations of broths, additions and toppings. There are two JINYA ramen locations in the greater Houston area: one in Webster, and the other in Midtown.
The List of Top 100 Dishes of 2015 So Far:
No. 60, The Rancor Burger at The Petrol Station
No. 61, Heritage Sampler Platter at Rudi Lechner's
No. 62, Oxtails at Le' Pam's House Of Creole
No. 63, The 420 Slice at Pi Pizza Truck
No. 64, Frenchy's Fried Chicken On Scott Street
No. 65, 3 Pig Mac & Cheese at Urban Eats
No. 66, Pucchia Pugliese Foggia at Sud Italia
No. 67, Triple-Smoked Pastrami On Rye At Kenny & Ziggy's
No. 68, Fume Pizza at Pizaro's Pizza Napoletana
No. 69, Banh Mi Thap Cam at Café TH
No. 70, Caramelized Onion Soup at Mockingbird Bistro
No. 71, Milk Chocolate Stout Malt at Fat Cat Creamery
No. 72, Pork Ribs at Roegels Barbecue Co.
No. 73, Carrot Pizza at Weights + Measures
No. 74, Jalisco Wings at El Big Bad
No. 75, Mussels at Cafe Brussels
No. 76, Cresta di Gallo at The Pass & Provisions
No. 77, Beef Fajitas at El Real Tex-Mex
No. 78, Chicken Tikka Masala from the Tandoori Nite truck
No. 79, Chocolates at Cacao & Cardamom
No, 80, Hummus Supreme at Al's Quick Stop
No. 81, Red Oil Dumplings at Mala Sichuan
No. 82, Tex-Cajun Fries at BB's Café
No. 83, Mac & Cheese at The Oceanaire Seafood Room
No. 84, The Principal Burger at Bernie's Burger Bus
No. 85, Hunter's Honey-Roasted Duck at Brennan's Of Houston
No. 86, Fish & Chips at Good Dog Houston
No. 87, Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit at Blacksmith
No. 88, "Saucy Balls" At Brooklyn Meatball Company
No. 89, Perry's Steakhouse/Perry & Sons Pork Chop
No. 90, General Tso's Chicken from The Rice Box
No. 91, Eggs, Refried Beans, Hash Browns and Hugo's Sauce at 59 Diner
No. 92, Shipley Do-Nuts Plain Glazed
No. 93, Housemade Bologney at Public Services Wine & Whisky
No. 94, Bo Luc Lac at Cheno's (formerly Chino's) Fast Food
No. 95, Combo #5 at Soto's Cantina
No. 96, Carnitas Salad At Chipotle
No. 97, Pickled Shrimp At Punk's Simple Southern Food
No. 98, Lobster Roll At Maine-Ly Sandwiches
No. 99, Chili-Cheese Coneys At JCI Grill
No. 100, Corned Beef Hash And Eggs At House Of Pies