For my birthday four years ago, my husband brought home a ramen cake from Sweets Paradise. It was a baffling experience to eat because visual cues signal you to expect something savory and salty but the ramen and all its toppings are actually crafted from sweets such as preserved fruit, chestnut cream, cookies, jelly, and sponge cake with cream. Needless to say it was a memorable present I still talk about.
For several years now around Valentine's Day, ramen chain Kourakuen has been offering its (in)famous chocolate ramen. Every time I see ads for it, I remember the ramen cake my husband gave me. The first time I saw the ad, I suspected that this novelty dish would flop and would be a one-off publicity thing but Kourakuen has been bringing chocolate ramen back regularly and this year is offering a white chocolate version as well. Curiosity got the better of me.
Last Sunday, we headed to our nearest Kourakuen Unfortunately, the white chocolate version was out of stock so we had to content ourselves with the classic chocolate version. Unlike my Sweets Paradise experience, I was expecting this bowl of ramen to be sweet -- this was not the case.
The only sweet part of this dish is the piece of chocolate. The rest of it was savory, and the cacao oil floating on top added a richness and complexity to the shoyu (soy sauce) based ramen. Ginger enhanced the cacao flavors. Overall, the chocolate worked well and wasn't overwhelming. From the ad photos, I expected a thick chocolate sauce underneath but instead, it really is a shoyu ramen with only a thin layer of chocolate/cacao oil layer on top. While we didn't get a chance to try the white chocolate version, expect a shio (salt) based broth and a thin layer of cream.
We were given complimentary bottles of nihonshu (Japanese wine) and chocolates which were part of the campaign until supplies last.
A bowl costs ¥640 and is available until March 11, 2020.