We could eat this all day.
Despite his mononational name, after three hit movies Captain America has achieved fame and success around the world. As a matter of fact, he’s popular enough in Japan that the producers of Captain America: Civil War bucked the common trend of Japan getting movies months after the rest of the world and actually released Cap’s newest film in Japan before its U.S. premier.
As such, many Japanese fans have already watched Team Captain America go toe-to-toe with Team Iron Man, but now the two groups of heroes stand opposed yet again, not in an ideological debate or fistfight, but as two different takes of special Marvel-themed ramen, which we were only too happy to try for ourselves.
Since Marvel knows far more about making comics and movies than it does about making noodles, for this project the company teamed up with Ippudo, one of Japan’s most beloved ramen chains. On May 13 and 14, visitors to Ippudo’s Minami Aoyama branch in Tokyo will be greeted by life-size statues of Cap and Iron Man, plus stacks of adorable Marvel Tsum Tsum plushies.
While ramen restaurant menus are usually a la carte, the Marvel ramen is only available as part of a course meal, priced at 4,500 yen (US$42). While that may be an eye-popping figure to drop at a ramen restaurant, you get several dishes, including two kind of ramen.
Let’s start with the main attractions: The Team Captain America and Team Iron Man ramen.
Ippudo and Marvel have gone all out with the theming, so much so that they’ve created special ramen bowls for each character, complete with lids (something rarely seen on restaurant ramen vessels). But as anyone who’s seen Civil War will tell you, the movie’s story is very much a group affair, which is why each bowl is packed with references to the other Marvel characters lined up on opposite sides of the debate.
For example, one of the characters allied with Captain America is master archer Hawkeye, so Cap’s ramen features long stalks of arrow-like komatsuna greens.
Another hero on Cap’s side is Ant-Man, which gave Ippudo the chance for some clever wordplay. See, “man” is pretty close to “men,” and men happens to be the Japanese word for “noodle.” So Ippudo added ant-like black pepper to its ramen and created “Ant-men.”
Meanwhile, over in Team Iron Man’s bowl, there’s a fried egg taking the place of the powered suit’s arc reactor. New pal of Tony Stark/addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man is represented by…spider web-lookalike cotton candy?!?
▼ Sure, it’s kind of weird, but it’s just the sort of thing Civil War’s innocent, excitable Peter Parker would love.
Not to be outdone by the Ant-men, Team Iron Man’s noodles are infused with carrot, giving them a color evocative of Black Widow’s fiery locks.
▼ Although given her fluid loyalties, we think these would probably go pretty well with the Captain America ramen too.
One other unusual element of Team Iron Man ramen is the inclusion of a handful of tortilla chips. We’re guessing their triangular shape is supposed to be a nod to the claws and fang-like costume accouterments of Black Panther. Unorthodox ingredients aside, both bowls of ramen were delicious, and picking a clear winner is as difficult as claiming either Captain America or Iron Man’s philosophy about government regulation is absolutely correct.
As we mentioned above, the meal includes more than just ramen. You also get a handful of wrap-them-yourself rice balls, with their accompanying seaweed wrappers bearing the likeness of cute super-deformed Marvel characters.
There’s also a glass of “Super-Soldier Serum Soda,” some “Winter Noodles” to munch on…
…and, for dessert, Captain America panna cotta.
Finally, the whole deal is sweetened by the inclusion of a Marvel/Ippudo crossover T-shirt.
Considering that the package includes so much food and some new threads, we felt like we got our 4,500 yen’s worth. Unfortunately, the meal is only available by prior reservation, and Ippuso says it’s already booked for the 200 it plans to serve as part of the limited-time promotion. Still, they went to all the trouble of crafting those special Captain America and Iron Man bowls, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that someday they’ll find it in their hearts to make these awesome batches of ramen one again.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s now wondering if an American restaurant might someday sell a Gundam Burger.
[ Read in Japanese ]