Machida Shiruba Shio Ramen Shinka (町田汁場 しおらーめん進化); Shio Ramen King of Machida, Machida
Machida area ramen shops tend to not get a lot of attention by foreign media due to its location outside of central Tokyo. However, Machida is an incredibly popular destination for Tokyo natives as there are hundreds of ramen shops in the area as well as it being a city full of universities. Therefore, you’ll likely see a lot of young, university students at Machida ramen shops. One of the popular ramen shops among both college students and ramen enthusiasts alike is Machida Shio Ramen Shinka, with both locations in Machida earning a spot on Tabelog’s Tokyo Top 100 Ramen list. Both stores are very good and the menu is the same, but this review is for the location in Morino.
The most popular menu item here is the regular Shio Ramen, or salt ramen. The broth is made from a light simmer of chicken and therefore has a delicate flavor that balances well with the Shio tare. Shinka is a nice break from some of the ramen shops with thick, rich broth. If you’re looking for flavors that will punch you in your mouth, this is not the shop to head to, but I promise their ramen is incredibly flavorful and delicious. The light and airy flavors of the chicken and salt soup will have you second guessing your favorite broth style. I ordered the popular Shio Ramen, the Shio Tsukemen, and a rice bowl.
My meal began with their rice bowl, Tori Shio Gohan. The rice bowl comes with chopped up chicken cubes from their chicken char siu topped with a spoonful of green onions and sprinkle of sesame seeds. They also have a mayo version with Japanese mayo drizzled on top. As I wanted something a bit more refreshing, I opted for this version which was fantastic. The chicken was perfectly seasoned in its salt marinade and very succulent. My mouth was watering with every bite due to its savory seasoning. It was a nice appetizer for the ramen to follow.
Next up was their signature ramen. Pictured is the Shio Zenbu Nose which comes with extra chicken char siu slices and marinated soft boiled egg. The broth for both the ramen and tsukemen is made from Sansui Jidori, a variety of chicken held to the same tier as Nagoya Cochin (the Kobe Beef of chicken in Japan). The yellowish tint on the soup is an indicator of the incredible flavor of the chicken broth. The yellow tint comes from chicken oils and, typically, the darker the yellow, the richer the flavor of the chicken fat. As you can see, the soup is quite yellow and the flavor reflects that. The richness of the chicken is full bodied at first from the fat, but mellows out with the lightness of the broth. The shio tare accentuates these flavors and adds a second dimension to the soup. The chicken char siu is tender and moist soaking in a lot of the soup from the bowl. I would guess that it was cooked sous vide, but could be a gentle poach as well. While tender, it still has a bit of chew to give a nice variety of textures. The bamboo shoots are crunchy and the green onions gives a nice refreshing aftertaste. Definitely a top 5 shio ramen nominee here.
My favorite dish here, however, is their Shio Tsukemen. Pictured is the Shio Tsukemen Zenbu Nose which comes with extra chicken char siu slices and the marinated soft boiled egg. First, let me start by describing the noodles as they recommend you eat the noodles by itself before dipping in to the soup. The noodles for the tsukemen is different than the regular ramen and they put a lot of dedication and detail in to them. Made with a combination of wheat flours, the initial flavor has very earthy wheat tones. However, the noodles are soaked in a kombu (seaweed), salt water bath giving it an incredibly refreshing aftertaste. Eating just the noodles by itself was so satisfying and I’ve never encountered another shop in which I felt this way. I can completely understand their wish for customers to try the noodles by itself first. Next, the soup. Wow. The rich chicken flavors and oils are intensified here as it is a condensed version of their Shio Ramen, but Shinka really did their due diligence in making sure this didn’t overwhelm your tastebuds. While it may have a rich punch from the chicken oils at first, the soup has a zesty aftertaste from the addition of lemon to cut through the fattiness of the condensed broth.
After about half way through, Shinka recommends adding their homemade lemon vinaigrette. A mizture of lemon juice, chicken oils and Japanese vinegar, it completely changes the taste of the bowl. The lemon and vinegar really cuts through the fatty soup and makes it incredibly refreshing. I really enjoyed being able to taste two different flavor profiles in one dish with the addition of this vinaigrette. The chicken char siu is the same as the ramen and the rice bowl so I’ll limit my comments about them, but I will say that it worked better in this tsukemen. Since the soup is condensed, the salty nature of the soup really enhanced the delicately seasoned chicken. My only complaint about both the ramen and the tsukemen was that the eggs were a bit overcooked for my liking. You can see a bit of it from the pictures, but it was approaching a hard boil. However, the salt marinade of the egg was very good and matched the rest of the bowl perfectly. I may have just come on a bad day for egg.
If you’re ever in the Machida area, definitely check this shop out. Even if you’re visiting central Tokyo, come and make a trek to Machida. It is quite an underrated section of Tokyo with tons of shopping and attractions. Come for the ramen, but make sure you enjoy the beautiful city as well. I’m certain it will widen your ramen and Tokyo travel horizons.