825 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach
Worlds collide to the tune of “Fresh garlic, yo! This is key!” from a well-dressed 20-something, who only moments before elaborated on how one particular dish was “so bomb” that it’s what he gets every time.
This smooshed-together PB sports bar/hipster ramen shop is Jinya, a multi-national franchise noodle house and arguably the new cool spot in Pacific Beach. Alt-girl pixies share serving duties with local surf bros, whose lilting uptalk works surprisingly well with the AstroTurf and Edison bulbs ironically sprucing up the brick decor. In true neighborhood form, multiple sports blare from TVs on every wall. Considering how we live in a world where Star Trek and Star Wars have the same director, perhaps this cultural meld should come as no surprise.
Ramen is hotter than anything and versatile enough to wrap itself in any neighborhood’s 37 pieces of flair. Fried kale! Caramelized cauliflower! The stalwart dishes of hip, urban cuisine have not crept sidewise into nachos and hot wings territory, they have put down roots and thrived. By that I of course mean “found popular approval.”
It’s not that the ramen is spectacular (it isn’t) or that the dishes are novel (they aren’t) — though the greasy pig ear chicharrón earns marks for bravery, which it then loses for being cumbersome to eat — it’s that people are embracing something beyond the immediate locale’s standard fare. This is to the betterment of us all.
Infinitely customizable. Relatively affordable ($8 to $13 per bowl). Always delightful as only a hot bowl of soup can be. PB’s big dose of hipster chic looks like it’s carved out a cozy niche for itself. Can we expect to soon see more in the same vein?