Limited-time tsukemen-style ramen lets you enjoy chocolate three different ways.
If you’re a chocolate lover, February in Japan presents a special kind of sweet torture. Yes, Japanese confectioners roll out all sorts of special chocolates for Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, most are available for a limited time, and it can be hard to find time to eat all of them, no matter how much snacking you schedule between meals.
The solution, therefore, is to make chocolate part of one of your ordinary three meals of the day, a strategy Tokyo ramen chain Menya Musashi is happy to help out with. Each year it offers a special chocolate ramen during the first two weeks of February, so we recently stopped by Musashi’s original location in Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood to try out the 2017 iteration.
This year’s chocolate ramen is officially called Tsuke Ghana 2017, an allusion to the Ghana-brand chocolate used, which is made by Japanese candy company Lotte.
Since this is tsukemen-style ramen, the order is served in two bowls, one of which contains the noodles and toppings, and the other the sauce in which you dip the noodles.
The Tsuke Ghana 2017, priced at 1,080 yen (US$9.30), actually gives diners a triple dose of chocolate. The broth is made with 1.3 bars of Ghana chocolate, producing a dark brown sauce with a thick consistency.
Meanwhile, the toppings include another piece of chocolate, plus foie gras balls coated in chocolate powder and with a chocolate center.
▼ You also get some greens and two nice strips of chashu pork.
We started by taking a sip of the broth, and discovered that it’s every bit as sweet as it looks. As a matter of fact, it was easier for our brains to think of it as a small bowl of hot cocoa than ramen broth. Hot cocoa being an almost universally loved beverage, we wouldn’t say it tastes bad. It just doesn’t taste anything like what most people would imagine when they think of ramen broth.
As for the rest of the ingredients, the noodles are tasty, and their moderate thickness makes them a great delivery vehicle for the chocolate dipping sauce. The other ingredients are also of an impressively high quality, and you could actually eat them by themselves, with no sauce, if you’re not in the mood to make your entire meal taste like a dessert.
While Menya Musashi has a number of branches, the chocolate ramen is available only at the Shinjuku, Hamamatsucho, and Shibaura locations, all found within downtown Tokyo, between now and February 14. Only 20 bowls are offered per day at each restaurant, and during our visit alone we saw four other customers order the Tsuke Ghana 2017, so we’d recommend showing up early if you’re planning to try it.
Menya Musashi (Shinjuku branch) / 麺屋武蔵（新宿総本店）
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Nishi Shinjuku, 7-2-6, K1 Building 1st floor
Open 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.