We ignored the advice of one reviewer who said to “never, ever eat” the video game-inspired dish, but was our courageous decision a foolish one too?

Every year when the Tokyo Game Show rolls around, hundreds of overseas journalists come to Japan to see the latest Japanese-produced video games. But that’s not all they do while they’re here, as many take the opportunity to sample the more creative dining options to be found in the country’s rich food culture.

That brings us to Kotaku columnist and Japanese curry fan Chris Kohler, who was tempted into trying the Pac-Man curry at the new VR Zone Shinjuku virtual reality entertainment complex in downtown Tokyo.

The edible salute to the video game icon is available at Glamper’s, a cafe located inside VR Zone Shinjuku. So what did Kohler think of the curry? Well, he titled the write-up of his impressions “Never, Ever Eat The Pac-Man Curry,” so his opinion is pretty clear.

But this scathing review had the opposite effect on our Japanese-language reporter Ahiru Neko. After all, a meal doesn’t have to be delicious to be memorable (something we experienced most recently when we ate a beetle), and so Ahiru Neko stepped out of SoraNews24 headquarters and made the brief walk to VR Zone Shinjuku.

Once inside, he bypassed the Dragon Ball and Mario Kart VR attractions and made his was straight to Glamper’s, where he ordered the Paku Paku Pac-Man Curry. As he waited, he took in the stylish surroundings, and given the effort that had gone into the interior design, wondered if the same restaurant could possibly serve such foul-tasting food.

Then, after a short wait, he was face-to-face with Pac-Man.

Normally, Japanese curry rice is made with white rice, but to get the coloring of the character right, the Paku Paku Pac-Man Curry uses rice mixed with turmeric. The effect is strikingly accurate, and Ahiru Neko was really impressed with what a great job the chefs have done with the overall presentation. You actually get two different types of curry on your plate. One is a pretty standard black curry, while the other is mixed with red beets and arranged in the shape of one of the game’s ghosts.

Pac-Man’s body and eyes (which are raisins) are completely edible, but his mouth isn’t. It’s a wedge of plastic, and also the source of Kohler’s first major complaint, because when you’re served the Pac-Man curry, the wedge is extremely hot.

▼ Ahiru Neko goes in to remove the mouth, and…

“It’s hot like the fires of hell,” Ahiru Neko assures us. “Maybe it’s so the rice won’t get cold?” he hypothesized, but in any case it’s definitely not something you’re going to want to try to extract by hand.

▼ It could hardly have hurt more if Pac-Man came to life and bit his finger.

Ahiru Neko eventually managed to pry the mouth free with his spoon…

…and, after saying a brief farewell, he crushed Pac-Man with the utensil.

Then it was time for the moment of truth. Well, the moments, actually, since Ahiru Neko had two types of curry to taste. He took a spoonful of the black curry, chewed, and swallowed.

Then he repeated the process with the red beet curry, laid his spoon down, and was silent for a moment.

Finally, he spoke, delivering his verdict.

“This…is totally normal curry.”

As a matter of fact, Ahiru Neko found the Pac-Man curry to be so run-of-the-mill that he’s shocked anyone could find it unstomachably unappetizing. “This is pretty much basic curry with ground meat, with nothing to get really worked up over,” he continued, though he did grant that the flavor was a little “meat sauce-like,” something that Kohler had cited as a big turn-off to his taste buds.

They say there’s no accounting for personal taste, but in the case of the Pac-Man curry, a bit of finance talk is actually in order. Priced at 1,382 yen (US$12.50), it’s a little on the expensive side for curry, and when you add in the 800 yen entrance fee for VR Zone Shinjuku (you have to pay to get onto the premises in order to access the cafe) we can’t really recommend making a special trip to Glamper’s just to eat this dish. On the other hand, Ahiru Nekko thinks the curry is perfectly serviceable in the flavor department, so he wouldn’t say you should “never, ever” eat the Pac-Man curry, just that you shouldn’t eat it unless you’re also planning to check out some of the VR Center Shinjuku’s attractions too.

Restaurant information
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Kabuki-cho 1-29-1 (inside VR Zone Shinjuku)
東京都新宿区歌舞伎町1-29-1 VR ZONE SHINJUKU内
Open 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Related: Kotaku USA
Photos ©SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]