Monday, March 29, 2010

Yakitori Jinbei : Smyrna

Update Apr 24.  I stopped by Yakitori Jinbei again, this time with my parents, who were visiting for the weekend.
Update Apr 7.   Tried out their yakitori bowl.

5-pc combo yakitori -  Solid.  Same thoughts on this as before.

Kitsune Udon (hot noodle soup with fried tofu) - I swear I took a photo, but can't find it.  Aha. Decent stuff.  The broth was pretty solid, a bit of umami, saltiness giving a relatively pleasing flavor.  The noodles themselves were like most other udon noodles I have had (Do any places ever make their own udon noodles?  I guess I've never really been blown away by any rendition of udon noodles like I have for hand-made pasta or hand-drawn noodles.)

Shoyu Ramen - My Dad ordered this and comparing it to the tonkatsu ramen that I ordered below, it was more or less the same, except for the broth.  (And if I were to choose, I'd go for the richer, perhaps fattier tonkatsu broth)

Tonkatsu Ramen - Same lovely noodles, and fatty pork.  The tonkatsu broth was relatively rich (but nowhere near quite as fatty as what I remember of Oidon in San Mateo, which I'm not really sure is a good thing or not)

I'm still keeping to my original assessment that this is fantastic to have nearby, but isn't quite a destination place.


Yakitori bowl - decent. All meat nice in texture. Not sure I was a fan of the grilled quail eggs, the charred part giving it a rather rubbery texture. Meatballs a bit gamey for me. Pork and chicken were decent though. (I think I might just stick to the chicken yakitori next time.


I was really surprised to see that there was a place nearby, Yakitori Jinbei, which served ramen.  So I hopped on over to give it a try.  Umm, twice.

The first time, I was excited to see a menu that contained items, not usually served in a standard Japanese/sushi joint.

And well I can't resist trying random things, so ordered myself a:

Nankotsu Karaage - Deep fried chicken cartilage.  Not bad, fairly light battering and well, strangely, exactly what you would expect if you took some chicken cartilage, put some battering on it and deep fried it.

Spicy Salmon sushi - Ok. The salmon decently fresh, but not overwhelmingly so.  Coming with a mayo-based sauce that caters to the less adventurous palate.

 I came out, not really all that impressed at all.  The second visit with my fiancé, however, we had a much better meal.

Salad - with a light soy sauce / sesame oil (?) sauce, not the standard sweet orange sauce.

Combo Yakitori - Negima (young chicken), Sasami (chicken tenderloin) - It is written on the menu that the owners had (have?) a restaurant in Japan that focused on yakitori and came here to continue the tradition.  And man, this is good stuff.  A nice char on the outside, reminding me of the grill street stands in China, and a nice tenderness inside, indicating that these guys know what they are doing with the grill.

Salmon Donburi - A mix of raw salmon and cooked salmon bits on a bed of rice.  Thought this was okay.  I suspect the problem with the raw salmon really is getting access to fresh enough fish (without jacking the price up into the serious expensive range), so I'm not sure if I can really complain about this.  The cooked salmon was a touch on the saltier side.

Shoyu Ramen - Some pretty tasty stuff.  The pork slices had a delicious fattyness to them and I wish there were a few more slices.  The noodles had a marvelous texture, eye-opening in the sense that this is what the instant-ramen noodles were originally supposed to taste like.  The broth was decent, perhaps not as fatty or indulgent as some other broths I have had, but solid enough for me to want to finish every part of it.

I still see myself as a ramen newbie, so do not feel comfortable saying this is a destination place, but clearly, the yakitori and the ramen do make for a pretty solid meal, such that if you're anywhere fairly close-by, this will not disappoint.

Yakitori Jinbei
2421 Cobb Parkway Southeast, Smyrna, GA 30080-3011 (Map)

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