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If you’ve been following the blog lately, you may have caught KAONASHI RAMEN’s recent Shio Ramen recipe post. If you haven’t already, be sure to check it out for a look into the intricacies of making phenomenal Shio Ramen, it’s a lot more difficult than you might think! To help you get a better idea of the type of ramen he introduced in the recipe, here are 5 of the best Shio Ramen you can get while traveling through Tokyo! As a side note, Shio Ramen can really encompass a variety of different ramen since the term references the tare (shio, or salt) rather than the ingredient base of the stock. The following list will be a top five for Chintan Chicken Shio Ramen, or a light chicken stock based ramen with a shio tare.
Menya Sho (麺屋 翔)
When it comes to Shio Ramen, I can’t think of a better place which encompasses the refinement of the style, while also being incredibly accessible, as Menya Sho, located just a short walking distance from Shinjuku station. While Menya Sho serves both a Shoyu and Shio version of their ramen (as well as a Tsukemen option), the Shio is definitely the one to grab and the highlight of the shop. Using a ultra specialized Shio tare, you’ll be shocked with how impactful the soup is.
Starting with the broth, Menya Sho uses Shamo which is a breed of chicken typically used for chicken fights in Southeast Asia. Shamo has been quite a popular breed of chicken for ramen in recent years since it imparts some fantastic flavors and creates a golden soup perfect for ramen. Combined with this Shamo stock is their Shio tare which is made up of a variety of hand selected salts from around the world. The umami incorporated into the Shio tare is amazing and gives it a special flavor that is unmatched by other ramen shops. A splash of chiyu, or chicken oil gives the ramen a hypnotizing finish and the thin noodles hidden underneath pair with the soup perfectly. Be sure not to skip out on their Tokusei, or extra topping version for a creamy ajitama soft boiled egg, extra slice of the char grilled chicken chashu, and wontons.
Machida Shiruba Shio Ramen Shinka (町田汁場 しおらーめん進化)
While a bit far from central Tokyo, Machida Shiruba Shio Ramen Shinka is one you definitely don’t want to take off your hit list. The shop has been a long standing Tokyo ramen Hyakumeiten, or top 100 shop procured by the Japanese food website Tabelog, and one of the legendary shops of this area known for incredible ramen. After one sip you’ll realize why it’s been on the list year after year as their Shio Ramen is among the best that you can find in Japan. Nowadays Shinka has expanded to multiple locations, but you can find the Honten, or home shop, just a short walk from Machida station.
Shinka offers a variety of ramen options from Shio to Shoyu and even a Niboshi ramen using dried sardines among others, but the namesake Shio Ramen is the go to bowl. The stock is steeped with a Sansui Jidori (山水地鶏), another elegant breed of chicken popular for ramen soup making. The Sansui chicken imparts a clean, but impactful chicken flavor and Shinka’s specialty Shio tare combine for a heartwarming soup. A bit of niboshi is added to give it a slight kick in umami, but overall is a well balanced bowl that any Shio ramen lover should try.
Motenashi Kuroki (饗 くろ㐂)
Probably not a surprise to any ramen fanatics out there to see Motenashi Kuroki on the list, but goes without saying that Kuroki is one of the best places in Japan to grab a bowl of Shio ramen. Located near Akihabara station, Kuroki is the perfect place to grab a nice lunch time meal in between shopping in the nearby Electric Town of Tokyo. Amid the maid cafes and retro video game stores, Motenashi Kuroki has established their ramen as one of the best in the country so be sure to plan accordingly in case of long queues. Don’t let it deter you though as their ramen is worth every minute of wait.
Again, like the previous shops on the list, Kuroki serves both Shio and Shoyu ramen, but the Shio ramen is the more popular of the two. Using domestic Koshu and Tamba chickens, the stock is a supremely gorgeous, translucent yellow and has a phenomenal rich, but airy flavor profile. The Shio tare is absolutely divine and transcends what you typically might think of with shio. It brings forth a mellowing flavor base that meshes perfectly with the stock and together they pair with the house made noodles to perfection. Topped with interesting accents like raw peppercorn and tomatoes, the different layers of flavors to enjoy is unmatched and worthy of the long queues you’ll likely have to wait through.
Menya Kintoki (麺や金時)
Menya Kintoki is a shop that doesn’t get a ton of attention in Western media as it is located in a pretty residential area of Tokyo, but any Japanese ramen fanatic will tell you, the Shio ramen here is a must try. The shop can be accessed from either Ekoda station on the Seibu Ikebukuro line or Kotake Mukaihara on the Fukutoshin line, but prepare for a short walk regardless of which station you come from. Also, Kintoki seats only 5-7 guests (depending on Covid protocols) so be sure to come early if you want to avoid a long wait outside.
Again, like the others on the list, Kintoki serves both a Shoyu and Shio variety of their ramen as well as a Shirunashi (no soup) Tantanmen, but the Shio is their recommended menu item. As for their stock, Kintoki has an interesting approach as they apparently grill their chicken before steeping in their stock pot. Not quite sure what difference this makes, as there are no distinguishable visible differences, but the soup is phenomenal. The stock is then combined with their Shio tare before serving and this umami enriched, saltiness really helps to uplift this gentle soup. Thin noodles hide underneath and have a great cling as you take your slurps for a flavorful bite, every time. Most memorable outside the soup is the sort of meatball made of plump, juicy shrimp...definitely worth getting the Tokusei, or extra topping version, to get two for your bowl.
Ramen Nijyubunnoichi (Ramen にじゅうぶんのいち)
Last, but definitely not least is Ramen Nijyubunnoichi located towards Higashiogusanchome Station. The shop is a bit complicated to get to from central Tokyo so be sure to Google map it for directions. While it may take you a bit to get to the shop, I can assure you that the ramen is well worth it and many agree as it was recently given a Michelin Bib Gourmand nod and is a Tabelog Top 100 Ramen shop of Tokyo. Much like the others on this list, the shop serves both a Shoyu and Shio variety of their chicken soup, but be sure to grab their Shio which they are most known for.
Soup is top notch and the broth is made primarily of Koshu Jidori, a brand of high end chicken from Kofu, and seafood ingredients such as kombu. Paired with this exquisite broth is their Shio tare which is made of three different types of salts and uplifts the flavors of the broth beautifully. The resulting soup is airy and light, but packed full of flavor and pairs phenomenally with their thin, snappy noodles. Toppings for the ramen include pork chashu cooked to a perfect rosy pink, hosaki menma bamboo shoots, some green onions, and a slice of dried nori for a simple, but elegant plating. If you’re hungry, definitely opt for the Tokusei version to get a bit more toppings to go along with your bowl.