Taste – Summer 2021
By Griffin Nelson | Photos By Evermore Photo Co.
Ramen as high end casual dining - is here and it’s coming in hot! Athens officially has its own ramen bar located on Broad Street downtown.
Jinya Ramen Bar tops their handmade noodle bowls with popular combinations of meat, vegetables, eggs, seaweed and more. In fact, the possibilities are endless! Of course if ramen isn’t your thing there are rice bowls, salads and small plates.
From hearty soups loaded with ingredients like pork or mushrooms, to flavorful vegan options like the Vegan Rice Bowl with soy meat, crispy chickpeas, kale, pickled red cabbage and more, the menu has something for everyone.
Appetizing small plates such as the truffle-laced Brussels Sprouts Tempura or Caramelized Cauliflower are a great starter. Ramen, rice bowls and salads provide a full meal. There are even desserts like mochi to satisfy your sweet tooth.
There are close to 40 Jinya Ramen Bars throughout North America but almost all of them are further west in places like California and British Columbia. The Athens location was opened by three close friends - James Wang, Fong Yeow and Stuart Davis.
Wang says he tried at least 12 different Jinya locations before they decided to open the one in Athens, doing their research and knowing, correctly, that it was a much needed option in the community. They praised their staff highly, especially Sanaya Saboowala, who keeps the place running smoothly and efficiently. “We try to give everyone a great experience - good food, good atmosphere, good service,” says Wang.
The food really is fantastic, as well as the service, but he’s right, even the environment ties in perfectly with the experience as a whole.
The bowls are handmade and painted in Japan, each one taking 48 hours to make from start to finish. The mural on the wall was painted by a California artist, and the neon sign by the door makes for a perfect insta-worthy moment, pointing out that “ramen is all the craze” in a bright pink glow.
Jinya Ramen Bar checks all the boxes – wonderful service, a cool setting, and great food. Whether you’re wanting a bowl of ramen to fill you up, a variety of options for that first date, or looking for tapas-style small plates with friends before a show, Jinya has you covered.
“Drink super. Feel super. Be super” is the motto behind Hibo, a new super drink established in 2020 right here in Athens. Founded by University of Georgia grad Clayton Oetting, Hibo is a hibiscus tea-based, carbonated beverage with limited ingredients for a fresh and healthy option without lots of additives or artificial ingredients.
Native to North Africa and found in drinks around the world, the hibiscus plant actually grows very well in the Southeast. The tea is made from the calyx of the plant - the part that holds the flower – and is naturally packed with antioxidants, electrolytes, vitamins A and C, and more iron than you’d find in spinach. Combine that with carbonated water, Mesca Sweet - a natural, zero calorie, zero sugar sweetener, a bit of caffeine and natural flavor and you’ve got Hibo Original + Caffeine. The drink has double the electrolytes of a standard sports drink, 110% of your daily iron, and just as many vitamins and antioxidants as you’d find in berries or fruit juice. If caffeine isn’t your thing, there are flavored options like peach and lemon that have even fewer ingredients (a total of three) with the organic flavors added using extracts or oils that allow the drink to continue to remain naturally calorie, carbohydrate and sugar free.
Oetting first started working on creating a drink that not only tastes good but is good for you, after watching his father stop drinking diet soda and losing some weight. What is in diet drinks that is clearly not healthy? Though studies haven’t definitively nailed it down, the artificial sweeteners used in diet soda seem to be linked to numerous health problems. By using Mesca, which is made from the natural combination of monk fruit, erythritol and stevia, Hibo is able to eliminate artificial additives entirely, creating a fresh and bright tasting beverage that not only tastes amazing but is good for you as well. As an added bonus the plastic can is 100% recyclable and shows the gorgeous pink beverage visible through the clear sides.
Previous feature G Brand BBQ in Crawford has put in a drive-through system in the back of their building! The vintage, industrial space is perfect for a over-sized, garage-style doors on each side with a newly-poured, smooth driveway between the two so that BBQ lovers can pick up their dinner under the cover of the building (so weather will never be an issue) without ever having to leave their vehicle. Call ahead to order for a smooth transition and quick in-and-out service with a smile at the best BBQ joint in the area!