For shio ramen in Saitama, Zenya (ぜんや) dominates like no other. In fact, Zenya’s salt-seasoned (shio) ramen is regarded as one of the best in all of Japan.
Zenya is in Niiza City, Saitama (the Prefecture above Tokyo). Niiza is right across the border. In other words, it’s not too far!
Saitama Shio Ramen – Top of the Pops
Zenya changed the game in a lot of ways. They’re responsible for ushering in an era of refined and complex shio (salt-seasoned) ramen. “Zenya Ramen” features special sea salt (Fukuen) from Fujian province, China.
It’s dynamic and works beautifully with the Camelia brand refined lard they use. This salty and punchy base meets a lighter soup that is pork bones, ribs, minced pork, chicken bones, and veggies (kelp added at the end).
The minimalist toppings match the soup – white negi (spring onions), menma (bamboo shoots), chashu pork (smoky on the edges), and Japanese spinach. The mouth of the bowl is so wide that you sample each of the toppings separately (instead of them being mixed together).
A lot of shio ramen use thin and delicate noodles. Not here at Zenya! They enlist fat, chewy noodles from Miwayaka Seimen (a famous noodle manufacturer).
There’s a reason Zenya has impressively been around for 20+ years. Their shio ramen was revolutionary back then. It still is now.
You won’t regret visiting them – even if you have to travel a little bit from central Tokyo.