Alongside Kit Kat bars, carbonated beverages, and potato chips, ice cream is one food Japanese flavor engineers love to monkey with. In the past we’ve seen frozen desserts flavored with great tastes such as scallops, vegetables, and pork.

This time we caught word of a little shop in Shin-Osaka Station offering travelers the cold and creamy taste of chicken ramen-flavored ice cream. So we hopped a train over to check it out and grab a self-heating chiki-bento while we were at it.

■ Chikin Ramen Hyoko-Chan Soft Cream

This unique ice cream is sold by Chiki-House in the rest area of the JR section of Shin-Osaka station. It’s a tiny shop selling various souvenirs based on Chikin Ramen brand instant ramen by Nissin.

In addition to the racks of stickers and Hyoko-chan (little chick mascot) plush toys there are two food items for sale. First is a cup of soft-serve ice cream infused with the great taste of chicken. Also, instead of sprinkles there are little bits of instant ramen noodles.

As you might expect there was a hint of saltiness behind the normally sweet taste of ice cream. It wasn’t far off a peanut butter taste, but instead of peanuts there was a distinctly meaty flavor. At first it was a little unsettling but I got used to it pretty quickly. Sadly, by that time the ice cream was pretty much finished. The one downside was that for 350 yen (US$2.94) plus tax, you don’t get a whole lot.

Luckily, I still had my rather large bento to take back to the lab for further delicious analysis.

■ Chikiben

The Chikiben is a pun on ekiben or eki-bento (lit. “station bento”) which are boxed lunches sold on train station platforms and contain foods unique to the region for people passing through to sample. Like many ekiben these days the Chikiben has a mysterious self-heating mechanism that involves pulling a string, hearing a strange whooooshhhh sound, and waiting about seven minutes.

With Chikin Ramen being an instant ramen brand you’d probably expect some cheap freeze-dried flakes of chicken but Chikiben was rather generous in the meat department. There were two types of chicken on top: lumps of charcoal grilled meat, and some strips of stewed chicken.

Actual ramen with broth would be dangerous for such a portable dish, so instead the Chikiben is served on a bed of rice with little strands of ramen noodles mixed in, all heavily seasoned with ramen flavor.

Both types of meat were tender and piping hot thanks to the heating elves at work beneath the plastic dish. However, as an unfortunate side-effect there was a kind of chemically aroma that tainted the overall flavor.

Also, because of the heating pack underneath, the size of the box makes it look like you get much more than you actually do. Again for the rather steep price of 1,100 yen ($9.24) before taxes the portions are a little disappointing.

That being said, with both the ice cream and bento the amount was just enough to not leave me hungry. They also were tasty enough to satisfy anyone looking for something quick and salty during a stop-over in Osaka. If you happen to be in the waiting area give them a try. They’re worth it at least once.

Source: Chikin Ramen (Japanese)
Photos © RocketNews24


▼ Seven minutes later







▼ “Heat Unit”