Most people would say that the pages of the Michelin dining guide and the shelves of a convenience store represent the two opposite endpoints of the scale of culinary quality. But Japan is always eager to find delicious food wherever it can, which brings us to this tie-up between Circle K, its sister chain Sunkus, and Tokyo ramen restaurant Tsuta.
Tsuta attracted attention from around the world last December when it became the first ramen restaurant ever to be awarded a Michelin star. While its delicious ramen already was a hit with those in the know, Tsuta’s newfound fame means that if you want to eat in the Sugamo-district restaurant, you’ll need to be prepared to wait multiple hours for a seat.
If you don’t think you can hold out that long, though, there’s another way to enjoy some Tsuta ramen coming next week when Circle K and Sunkus stores start selling a Tsuta-designed instant ramen. Meant to be eaten cold to ward off the steamy heat of early summer in Japan, the 498-yen Tsuta instant ramen uses thin noodles and a soy-based broth enhanced with chicken bullion, fish stock, and flavorings that mimic the truffle extract found in Tsuta’s restaurant ramen.
The Tsuta instant ramen will be available at Circle K and Sunkus stores across Japan, with the exception of branches in Kyushu. On the other hand, only locations in Kanto (the eastern part of the country that includes Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Chiba) will be selling Tsuta’s second convenience store dish: the Makanai Niku Meshi.
Inspired by makanai, simple arranged dishes restaurant workers often make for themselves by combining whatever ingredients they’ve got on hand, the 360-yen Makanai Niku Meshi uses a white truffle extract sauce to flavor its rice and chunks of chashu pork, which are cooked together for a synergy of flavors. The relatively small portion should make it great for a quick snack or to enjoy as a side dish to the Tsuta ramen.
Both items go on sale May 24, and will be available until June 20. While the instant ramen probably won’t taste quite as good as the dish that made Tsuta world-famous, it’s much less of a time-commitment, and its lengthy shelf life ought to make it a great souvenir for any ramen-loving friends or relatives in travelers’ home countries.
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