I don’t know if it’s because of its light color, but somehow shio (salt) ramen has a dull image. However, when it’s put in front of you, don’t you feel somehow safe? “Ah, this is it!”
The extremely simple seasoning makes the soup delicious. It must be the salt flavor that makes me feel so safe.
In Ako, the Hyogo prefecture city famous for Chushingura and the 47 samurais, salt has been produced since the Yayoi period (300 BC – 300 AD).
When production increased during the Edo period (1603 – 1868), the area became known throughout Japan as “the country of salt”.
Even if you go to a local supermarket today, you’ll be surprised by the wide variety of salts available made with Ako seawater. Even within the Setouchi area, Ako has the most delicious salts.
If you visit the Ako city museum of history, which is located at the site of Ako Castle’s former rice storerooms (https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/445), you’ll find traditional salt making tools on display.
You can see what a deep impact salt production has had on the life of Ako citizens.
Our recommendation for a ramen shop that uses superior quality Ako salt is “Ako Ramen Menbo”. Conveniently located in the commercial building connected to JR Banshu Ako station, it has the added advantage of keeping you dry on rainy days!
Menbo prides itself on using 100% Ako salt. Indeed, all member shops of the Banshu Ako shio ramen association serve shio ramen made only with Ako salt.
Simple and well balanced, toppings include roast pork, green onions, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts and nori seaweed, which goes surprisingly well with the soup broth.
The waiter who brought me the ramen asks politely, “Would you like some garlic?”
(I’m sure it’ll smell… He’s waiting for me to refuse, I can see it on his face, but as they recommend it…)
“Um, yes, please,” I say!
My choice was spot on.
The raw sliced garlic is so spicy it makes my throat sting, and when I mix it with the thin ramen noodles they deliver a punch beyond my imagination. However, it doesn’t hide the great flavor of the shio broth.
Even after finishing the noodles, I kept on sipping the Ako shio soup broth together with the garlic.
You can find a Banshu Ako shio ramen map at the tourist information center at the station. It includes some good value coupons, so take it with you when you go to eat ramen made using local salt.
Ako Ramen Menbo
Location: Plat Ako 2nd floor, 290-10 Kariya, Ako city, Hyogo prefecture
Open: all year round,11:00-21:00 (Orders stop)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Madoka Hori
Madoka Hori / Photo-writer Entrepreneurial translator/writer living in Hyogo. As a licensed English tour guide, she occasionally takes tourists to beautiful destinations such as Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Kyoto, and Osaka and her clients have never got lost so far. On Setouchi Finder, as one of the original team members, she enjoys taking photos and sharing her favorite hidden gems. Private Photo Blog http://riderv328.tumblr.com Twitter https://twitter.com/Riderv328
> A guided tour, including teatime, where you can see the former “Koshien Hotel” – “Frank Lloyd Wright type” architecture by Arata Endo. / Koshien Hall at Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo)
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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