To most people, ramen noodles conjure up nostalgic thoughts of young college days lived on shoe-string budgets. Like many, the thing I knew about ramen was that I could feed myself for less than $10 a week and still have plenty of money for booze and other vices. I spent many a late night whipping up ramen variations, including ramen lasagna and fried ramen balls!
Luckily, I learned the err of my ways when a friend opened me up to the possibilities of ramen with my first bowl of tonkotsu ramen! Tonkotsu literally means pork bones in Japanese and that is precisely what the broth is made from. When Creative Loafing came out with an article about the top 100 dishes to try before you die in Atlanta I was immediately excited to see a tonkotsu ramen offering ( http://bit.ly/mqeToD); even better it was close to my office in Smyinings!
The restaurant, Yakatori Jinbei, has been off of Cobb Parkway for about 10 years and the family previously owned a yakatori spot in Japan and ran it for 20 years before coming to Atlanta, so you can imagine how long they’ve been perfecting these recipes
Yakatori is skewered chicken cooked over open coals, but commonly refers to any protein cooked on a stick. Jinbei has several variations and it’s only served at dinner, so take that into consideration if you want to try these tasty morsels along with the ramen. The tonkotsu broth is made from simmering pork bones for hours to render out the bone marrow and collagen and theirs uses fresh pig trotters! This process gives the broth a thick, creamy texture and a milky white appearance; if I didn’t know better, I would swear they used cream. They also add in fatback towards the end of the cooking that gives the soup a rich, almost sticky quality.
The noodles are cooked to perfection and are topped with cabbage, carrots and 2-3 slices of roasted pork, fat and all; if you want to get crazy you can order double pork for an extra $2.
The broth has incredible depth of flavor and you should be prepared to finish it….because you will. That brings me to my next point of the size of the bowl; it’s big, really big and you will leave stuffed if you finish it. To finish it in true Japanese style however, you must pick up the bowl with both hands and turn it up to slurp out the remaining soup! One of our party did this, and barely missed having to do the walk of shame back to the office with a large stain on his shirt…not recommended if there is more than a cup left in the bowl! This dish alone is worth the trip OTP, but go for the ramen and stay for the yakatori!