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May 27, 2011
LA's Ramen Jinya Comes to Vancouver

Toronto may have befriended David Chang, but apparently we're getting the nod from Takahasi Tomonori.

Although not as famous a name to North American food groupies, the Japanese restaurant mogul is recognized as a serious player in Asia, thanks to his several high-end restaurants in Tokyo.

Recently Tomonori's La Brea Dining Group division made its first foray across the Pacific to launch two Jinya branded restaurants in Los Angeles: The Ramen Jinya Japanese Noodle and Ramen House in Studio City, and the Robata Jinya, a Japanese robata grill restaurant in Beverly Hills. Stylish and trendy, both were immediate hits with the Californians -- Ramen Jinya even earning a "Must Eat There Before You Die" kudo from Jonathan Gold of the L.A. Weekly.

And now it looks like Mr. Tomonori is expanding his empire to Vancouver. A duplicate of Ramen Jinya is getting ready to open only a couple blocks SE of the Central Vancouver Library at 270 Robson (and Cambie St). It's the same spot that housed the humble but consistent EZ Ginku Noodle Cafe (possibly the downtown core's first dedicated ramen house) for many years.

In Los Angeles, Ramen Jinya won a following for incorporating organic vegetables, kuro wagyu beef, and most notably, fish from Japan’s Seto inland sea into it's otherwise California casual menu. Let's just say it had no lack of all the fatty, crunchy, salty flavours that Westerners love.

It remains to be seen what direction they will take with British Columbia ingredients, but even if strictly traditional, it should be welcome and popular with the student crowd who frequent the nearby Central Vancouver Library.

That is, as long as the restaurant keeps its main game straight. The sports heads yahoo-ing their way down to BC Place may not notice, or care, if the noodles aren't quite right, but the Japanese expats certainly will.

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