THE HUXTA BOWL- The Gert Town restaurant Kin is a ramen joint on the rise, and the city’s stars are taking notice. Photo by Jesse Brooks.
By Jesse Brooks
Recently in a MEET THE CITY piece for UPROXX, Pro Bowl New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan listed his Top 10 favorite hangout spots and activities in the Crescent City.
Many of Jordan’s selections are staples locals and visitors are familiar with, but his declaration of gourmet ramen restaurant Kin as his “Favorite Dinner Spot” may come as bit of a surprise. As Jordan notes, it’s typical to call a local creole or Cajun spot as your favorite restaurant in New Orleans, but something about Kin just captures his attention.
As a personal fan of anything involving hot bowls of Asian noodles, Jordan’s endorsement put me on a path of purpose on a cold winter’s night in early January.
In what is arguably one of the greatest food cities in the world, it is still easy to see how Kin stands out in a crowd. Sitting in a triangle cross-section in Gert Town on the streets of Cilo, Clark and Washington, a small restaurant owned by Hieo Than resides.
When the restaurant opened in March of 2015, it was a fine dining Asian-fusion establishment. It was converted into full-time ramen shop two years ago with the goal of making the Japanese dish in their own image.
In my observation, Kin was the type of place that is easy to get excited about because it quickly became apparent after entering the door the food served up is as much about artistry as it is just great down home cooking.
The dining area is a small room with a couple of tables and there is a bar in front of the kitchen area so immediately you are face to face with the sights, sounds and smells of your dinner being prepared. The space is warm an invite and fits an atmosphere of anywhere between casual to semi-formal, an ideal place for a desired intimate setting.
The menu is minimal with some appetizers and about 4-6 bowls of ramen to choose from. The menu is constantly in flux so the living nature of what’s available provide a certain thrill for an adventurous eater.
For their starters, dumplings or chicken wings can be ordered. How they are prepared is determined by daily selection. In general dumpling may have pork, beef, veggies or creole shrimp on any given day. On the night I visited, the “Fat Boy” wings were available, chicken smothered in pork and beef fat.
When it comes to ramen, Kin has been criticized for not being “authentic”, an attribute the establish is quite proud of. Regardless of whether their ramen is experimental or not, the quality and craftsmanship is undeniable. The food is always fresh, and it is just flat-out delicious.
A mainstay at Kin, is The Huxta Bowl, a pork based broth in a bowl full of ground pork shoulder, miso corn, greens, a soft boiled egg, roasted garlic, cream, bok choy and lemongrass. What I find remarkable about a dish like this as evolving as it is supposed to be I find it incredibly American, Deep South even. Yes, its full of fine flavor but it also has this quality of what I like to call “grandma food”. It was created simply, but what superior instincts based on available resources. The vegetables are earthy, broth is rich and there is plenty of meat to go around.
Also regularly available for ramen there is chicken fried with a panko crust, brisket, pork belly and a vegan option. As I stated before, the menu is constantly changing so it is best to dine with an open mind.
The surprise element Kin offers will leave you hooked and awake curiously and creatively.