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22 Feb 2013

The Indy Endorsement: The Pork Ramen at Jiao

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Imagine this dish with more broth. Mmmm. Imagine this dish with more broth. Mmmm.

What: The ramen with pork belly

Where: Jiao, 515 N. Palm Canyon Drive, No. B-10, Palm Springs

How much: A downright reasonable $10

Contact info: 321-1424; www.jiaops.com

Why: The flavors are a perfect mix.

It was an in-season Friday night, and we were wandering around the north part of downtown Palm Springs. We had no reservations anywhere—and as hunger started to set in, that lack of reservations became a problem.

There was an hour wait at Jake's. Double that at Birba. So we crossed Palm Canyon Drive and decided to check out Jiao. We're very happy that we did.

Jiao has not quite been around for a year yet; it was opened last spring by the same folks who own Cheeky's and the aforementioned Birba. While it does not draw the freaking-insane-sized crowds that its sister restaurants do, Jiao seems to do a nice business, and we were happy to immediately get seats at the counter. Like I said, we were hungry.

We sampled dishes from all over the reasonably priced pan-Asian menu (which changes every week, if the Jiao Facebook page to be believed), but one stood out: the ramen with pork belly.

Here's how good the pork ramen was: Despite some flaws, the dish was still amazing. Ramen noodles in a delicious broth were topped with perfectly prepared pork belly, greens and a sliced-in-half hard-boiled egg. Simple, but splendid. Every bite in which I could get all of the ingredients was pure heaven.

That leads to the aforementioned flaws: It was almost impossible to get all of those ingredients together in one bite. There is not enough of the earthy, salty (in a good way) broth—it goes fast—and the large pork-belly slices get devoured too quickly unless one cuts them up with a knife. 

But those bites where everything does come together? Perfection.

The next time I am at Jiao, I will order this dish with extra broth and a steak knife (that is, if the dish is on the ever-changing menu that week). I recommend you do the same.

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