Ramen, understandably, is one of the Japanese foods that foreign visitors (and locals too, for that matter) find hugely appealing, and there’s certainly no shortage of ramen shops or unique ramen flavors to be tried in Japan. Now, you may recall that back in November last year, we brought you news of the very interesting matcha green tea ramen from Menya Musashi. Well, this month, it looked like it was time to make a repeat visit to Menya Musashi, to have some… chocolate ramen!
Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day week and everything is chocolate themed in Japan at the moment, so why not ramen too, right? We definitely weren’t about to miss this dish that combined two of our favorite foods!
This is actually the seventh year Menya Musashi has created a ramen menu in collaboration with snack maker Lotte’s Ghana Milk Chocolate, so they know what they’re doing when mixing chocolate with ramen, and we’d heard that this year’s offering, the “Tsuke Ghana“, was a tsukemen-style ramen, where the noodles and soup are served separately and you dip the noodles in the soup. Mmmm … dark, milk chocolate mixed with rich ramen stock — we were getting excited already, especially since this year’s chocolate ramen apparently contained more chocolate per serving than ever before!
▼Yes, we’re back at the Menya Musashi shop in Shinjuku:
▼It was dinner time and the place was full.
▼First, we have to buy a ticket from the vending machine to place our order.
▼That’s the ramen we were looking for in the picture, the Tsuke Ghana. It costs 880 yen (US$7.33) including tax.
▼At last, we get to try the much-anticipated chocolate ramen. Since it’s a tsukemen, the noodles and soup come in separate bowls.
▼Let’s see what’s in the bowl of noodles: the noodles are topped with pickled peppers, radish and gobo (burdock), yuzu citrus jam, some mint, basil, stir-fried ground pork, and a piece of Ghana Milk Chocolate.
▼The vegetables add a nice touch of color:
▼Here’s the pickled burdock …
▼… and the pickled yellow pepper.
▼The ground pork is flavored with half a tablet of Ghana Milk chocolate, tianmianjiang sweet bean paste and red wine.
▼And of course, we can’t forget the piece of chocolate that adds the final touch!
▼ And now, for the soup! The actual soup contains roughly an entire tablet of Ghana Milk Chocolate, fond de veau veal stock, red wine, thyme and bay leaf and is topped with a sprinkling of several spices including oregano and black pepper. Combined with the ingredients in the bowl of noodles, that’s a tablet and half of chocolate used in a single serving of the “Tsuke Ghana” ramen!
▼Well, enough looking; it was time to actually taste the ramen! The noodles were on the slightly thick side.
▼We dipped the noodles into the soup.
▼The soup had a nice consistency — not too runny and thick enough to mix well with the noodles.
And what did we think after tasting the actual chocolate ramen? In one word, surprisingly delectable! (Sorry, we guess that’s two words.)
We thought the soup was a very pleasant combination of chocolate and Western-style stock, with just enough chocolate flavor to satisfy our love for sweets. In fact, we were quite impressed with how we could clearly taste the chocolate in the soup, but it also had enough character to stand on its own as a rich soup and not just a sweet sauce for the noodles. Together with the ramen noodles and the ground pork flavored with tianmianjiang sweet bean paste, we thought it was a case of Japanese, western and Chinese tastes coming together in quite a delightful way. The ground pork also had plenty of flavor, and having the noodles with the pork alone was definitely enjoyable as well.
The “Tsuke Ghana” ramen is on the menu at the Shinjuku and Kamata shops of Menya Musashi until February 15, and only 20 servings are available each day. And if chocolate isn’t quite your cup of tea, they still have their regular ramen in both soup noodle and dip-in-the sauce tsukemen style, so as long as you’re in the mood for ramen, you definitely won’t go hungry. We, for one, hope this chocolate ramen is a Valentine’s tradition Menya Musashi willl continue for many years to come!
Read our previous chocolate fusion adventure: Chocolate Pizza at Max Brenner, Shibuya
Reference: Entabe (Japanese)
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