First Look: Jobu Ramen

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

Grandview's restaurant row is quickly turning into a restaurant district. The latest addition to the neighborhood is Jobu Ramen, a small and nimble noodle shop that opened on Monday.

Jobu is owned by Michael Kopfman and John Franke-two guys who met over their shared love of ramen. Kopfman, a local chef who most recently worked for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, introduced himself to Franke after stopping by Mashita Noodles, Franke's noodle cart. They've been working away at their concept ever since.

They've managed to squeeze in a few extra seats into the cozy former Mazah space, with room for 38 diners inside at gold-studded booths, dark wood tables and counter seats with a small view into the kitchen. Another six seats or so are situated on a small patio out front.

On the menu, you'll find a handful of snacks, including Kimchi and Pickles ($6), Chicken Wings with a Five Spice dry rub ($8), and Steam Buns ($8) with a choice of chicken or roasted pork. I recommend the latter. Buns were soft and yeasty, the pork was tender and pleasantly fatty and micro greens added a bright layer to every bite.

Jobu's menu also includes two salads-kimchi ($10) and cold noodle ($10). But during my visit it was obvious everyone had come for the four house ramen bowls-Veggie ($10), Soy ($12), Chicken ($12) and Miso ($13). If you're not averse to pork, start with the Soy, a colorful collection of scallion, cabbage, roasted pork and creamy-centered egg in a rich pork broth. My only complaint (as well as that of my dining companion, who enjoyed her Chicken ramen with roasted chicken, egg, scallions, cabbage and veggies) is that every dish needed more broth. I found I didn't truly need to use my spoon until the very end of the bowl.

Flavors of house iced tea and hot tea will rotate regularly; special blends are being crafted by Stauf's just for Jobu. During my visit, the iced tea was a light and refreshing mango green tea, served in a glass carafe that yielded a handful of refills. (The waitress kindly brought me a much-needed to-go cup at the end of the meal.)

They've got a few opening-week kinks to work out. They weren't pleased with their chicken broth during out visit, so chicken ramen was served with a choice of miso or soy broth. And they were out of rice, so starters like Kimchi and Pickles ($6), made with house-pickled veggies, rice and egg, and the Korean BBQ Burrito ($8) filled with chicken, miso aioli, barbecue, kimchi and sticky rice, were missing a key ingredient. All small, forgivable slips during an opening week.

You may want to check Jobu's Facebook page before you head out-while they hope to be open daily for lunch and dinner, they've closed early a few times because they've run out of key ingredients.