Blackhawk is a long way from Tokyo. So when Tomo Takahashi debuted his first JINYA Ramen in the Japanese capital in 2000, he probably didn’t know that 23 successful years later, he’d be opening his first casino collaboration in Colorado.
But on Wednesday, August 23, JINYA Ramen Bar opened its 57th location right on the gaming floor at the Ameristar Casino and Hotel. This marks the second iteration in Colorado, following the introduction of a standalone restaurant in downtown Denver in 2020. The bustling 65-seat dining room features an elegant bar and its own baccarat parlor.
“If you’ve been to a JINYA before, you know it’s an experiential dining experience,” said VP of Marketing for JINYA Holdings Cai Palmiter. Guests are greeted with an enthusiastic “irasshaimase”, and there’s plenty of slurping, grinning and gabbing to be found across the restaurant.
While the combination of JINYA’s elegance and Ameristar’s neon glitz can present as a bit of an odd couple, the two actually enjoy a solid symbiosis. “Blackhawk is a destination. JINYA is also a destination,” continued Palmiter. “We’re trying to educate people about ramen culture and Japanese cuisine. Tomo is trying to be the face of ramen in America.” Earlier this year JINYA announced that it would become the Official Restaurant Partner of NASCAR champion Kyle Larson. Palmiter says that the unusual partnerships are strategic. “It creates more curiosity.”
It’s also no secret that ramen is great drinking food.
JINYA has a range of robust options, with bowls favoring the kind of flavors found in classic Tokyo joints. The shrimp wonton ramen comes packed with a solid helping of pork shrimp and chicken wontons, green onion and wood ear mushrooms, the whole dish thoroughly enlivened by the oceanic pork and shrimp broth. The chicken ramen is rich and creamy, while the spicy umami miso ramen comes in a lighter broth, offset by its dense toppings of ground pork soboro, bean sprouts, green onion, bok choy and chili oil. Don’t leave without getting an order of the spicy creamy shrimp tempura.
JINYA Blackhawk is currently running the Kara-men, a chef’s special with clear chicken broth, ground pork, bean sprouts, green onion, onion, cilantro, chili paste, onsen tamago and sesame seeds. It will be exclusive to Blackhawk through the first few weeks of September, at which point it can be accessed across locations.
Palmiter says that while this is the first in-casino JINYA, the team is open to the possibility of opening more down the line.
All photography courtesy of JINYA Holdings.