Kid Hit Menu Items: Ramen, if safely apportioned and shared. You don’t go to Ramen Jinya for the sushi, but that’s an option, along with an eclectic list of tofu and veggie salads.
Adult Perks: Gut and soul satisfying ramen that won almost instant praise from some people who matter in this town (see below). The rotating menu of organic salads might include tofu, corn, white balsamic and grape seed oil; broccoli, ricotta, raisins and whipped cream (um, OK?); potato, carrot, cucumber, pumpkin and cayenne pepper; and couscous, mushrooms, Parm, truffle vinaigrette ($3.80-$9.60).
Oh, hey, there’s Mattatouille.
Pros: Most key ingredients (broth, noodles) are already prepared so food will hopefully arrive quickly. Various seating options work for different sized groups and temperaments. The counter that extends all along the open kitchen is fun and provides interesting spectacle. There’s an outdoor patio if that’s easier for romping kids than the dining room, which combines elements of a simple, contemporary functional noodle house with a few token rustic Japanese touches. Note to parents who take their kids to classes at Creation Station: Jinya is VERY GOOD NEWS.Look for the Marshall’s and Creation Station in the big mini-mall on Ventura. Glamorous landmarks on all sides!
Cons: Big ass bowls of HOT SOUP!!!
Changing Station: No. Storage table can double as changing table, but like Cecconi’s, I doubt they’d recommend or endorse doing so.
High Chairs: Yes.
Parking and Access: Big strip mall (more like a maxi mini-mall) with surface and easy underground free parking. Good elevators and escalators to ride, although the elevator is missing a button for the ground floor, and that hardly inspires confidence.
Other Tidbits: When the Rameniac declares that “if ever there was a year for a blockbuster Los Angeles noodle summer, that year is now,” we have serious reason to cheer. Movies might suck, but at least we have more great ramen options. I raced over to Jinya the day before J. Gold’s review hit the paper, and worrying how the sweet dears working there — only three guys, from what I could tell — would handle the crowds. Jinya, which is operated by a Japan-based owner who’s expanding into the U.S. market (Robata Jinya on 3rd and Crescent Heights is forthcoming), seriously merits a return visit to sample way more widely than I was able to. (Read this for a comprehensive and beautiful virtual tour through Jinya’s menu.) We also had a spilled water incident to contend with; hey, better than spilled ramen! But I devoured my bowl of intense porky tonkotsu with those soft, yielding meat roundals ($7.95). Even if I prefer the deep, quietly garlicky broth at Jinya, the thicker noodles at Daikokuya and Santouka are more my thing, as well as bamboo shoots, which Jinya doesn’t include.
Another nice touch: the waiter very kindly brought us separate plastic kid dishes so I could share a bit of my ramen. Fat chance! OK, I gave him a few, and some of the egg.
11239 Ventura Blvd., Studio City (and other locations)
Cuisine: Japanese (Ramen)
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.