Yes, that is a piece of chocolate sitting casually nestled among some noodles and vegetables. Popular ramen restaurant Menya Musashi in Shinjuku may be famed for its huge chunks of juicy kakuni pork but it’s not opposed to branching out for a special occasion.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, chocolate mania hits Japan. Jumping on trend, Menya Musashi have created a chocolate tsukemen dish. Tsukemen are noodles served cold, which are then dipped into a warm sauce. They are chewier than ramen noodles, and the texture and temperature contrasts means that, on average, I actually prefer tsukemen!
This extra special dish is called the “Tsuke Ghana 2015” (880 yen) as it’s a collaboration with Lotte that produces the Ghana chocolate – apparently a whole bar is melted into the broth, which also contains veal stock, red wine and various herbs spices.
This sounds like a sweet disaster but it’s actually incredibly well executed – the sauce is the perfect consistency for giving a noodles a flavoursome coating.
It is, however, incredibly rich and halfway through the bowl the sweetness might just catch up on you. I’m a broth/sauce drinker – able to down even some really oily sauce concoctions – but there was no way that I would be loading my stomach with this.
Personally, the sauce could have benefitted from having more of a tang to tackle the sweetness – some red wine vinegar perhaps? And it definitely would be fantastic with chilli.
The minced meat served with the noodles was sweet with hints of chocolate, but also had a slight spice, and it was simply irresistible. Yes, mince meat worth raving about! Various vegetables were served on the side such as peppers and burdock root. There was even some yuzu jam, which they advertised like a prized ingredient, but actually stuck out like a sore thumb. The stroke of genius was the addition of basil leaves. Whoever would have guessed that basil went so well with noodles and chocolatey sauce? I could have laden my bowl with just basil leaves and eaten it straight. One word of advice would be to save the piece of chocolate until last. Do not try to mix it with the other ingredients unless you enjoy flavour clashes!
As with all these wonderful seasonal oddities, the Tsuke Ghana 2015 is only available until this Sunday (February 15th) so get yourself over to the Nishi-Shinjuku area. Warning: this shop is VERY popular so you’ll want to arrive early if you don’t like queuing! If you do have to queue though, the staff are ridiculously upbeat and will probably amuse you with their cheerful energy as they rush to serve up noodles.
Address: 7-2-6 Nishishinjuku | K1 Bldg. 1F, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Transport: Shinjukunishiguchi Station 5 mins’ walk; Seibu Shinjuku Station 145m
Opening hours: 11: 00 ~ 22: 30 (LO: 22: 30)