Whenever you’re agonising over how best to optimise a bowl of ramen, there are plenty of delicious possibilities. Some might opt for the hearty, heroically savoury broth. Others may prefer to wax lyrical about the luxuriant richness of an ajitsuke tamago ramen egg.
It takes a very particular type of diner, however, to dive into a bowl, only to be disappointed by a lack of chocolate. Some things should be best left on the dessert menu.
Even though the idea of melting a Dairy Milk into a dashi sounds like a Willy Wonka fever dream, chocolate ramen is actually much more real than you might think. Particularly popular around Valentine’s Day, the alarming-sounding dish has been appearing all over Tokyo menus, horrifying and intriguing ramen-thusiasts in equal measure.
Perhaps the city’s most famous chocolate ramen comes from chain restaurant Kourakuen, who found viral fame with the dish back in 2019. According to promotional photos, this version features a dark glossy broth, accompanied by all the traditional ramen accoutrements. The only thing out of place is the sinister square of chocolate breaking through the brown surface.
While Kourakuen’s seasonal promotion may well be the most popular version of the dish, it is by no means the only option on the table. As per Time Out, Tokyo-based business Mensho Tokyo have also prepared a version in collaboration with Belgian chocolate shop Duc De Praslin, while Kipposhi restaurant has come up with a limited edition “Pink Valentine Ramen” with a pink chocolate bar.
In fact, the unusual combination has proved so popular that it has started to crop up on menus outside of the Japanese capital. One ramen shop near Ghent in the Netherlands is currently offering a “Chocolate Miso Ramen” special to celebrate February 14th.
Even though a half-melted Galaxy might sound slightly less tempting than a gently cooked pork shoulder, the fact that the dish has gone international may be a sign that there’s more to chocolate ramen than meets the eye.