Does the Ramen Roll live up to the reputation of its popular cousin, the Yakisoba Roll?

Japanese chefs are masters of culinary sampling, and it can be said that in no category can you find quite as much variety as in the sandwich. Between matcha green tea tuna sandwiches, breakfast donut sandwiches, and bento box sandwiches, the level of inventiveness that sandwich makers have in Japan may be unparalleled throughout the world.

Of course, that also means that Japanese sandwich-makers will slap just about anything in between bread and call it a sandwich, even if it’s just more nutritionally worthless carbs like yakisoba or potato salad. But if you can, why not? So must have thought a local Kyoto cafe, which offers yet another unique sandwich invention: the Ramen Roll sandwich. Of course, we love weird food, so we couldn’t help but try it.

The cafe is called Happy Buns, and it’s a trendy little shop in a traditional-looking building located near Chishaku-in and Sanjusangen-do Temples in Kyoto. From the outside, it doesn’t look like the kind of shop that would sell bizarre sandwiches, but a single glance at the menu proves that you can’t judge a restaurant by its storefront. Its menu is small, but unique, with other interesting flavor options like “Yatsuhashi”, presumably filled with the famous Kyoto sweet, and “Keema”, a popular curry flavor.

We were sorely tempted to try the “S’more” sandwich, but we stuck to our guns and ordered what we came for: the Ramen Roll (380 yen, [US$3.40]), and what was brought before us was a pleasant surprise.

The sandwich is like a bowl of ramen all on its own! It has noodles, of course, but also a slice of a naruto (fish cake), chashu pork, green onions and even a marinated egg! Somehow it all fits on a hot dog bun, and looks nice doing it.

We couldn’t get a sense of its flavor from just looking at it, though. While your ordinary bowl of ramen usually has a pretty aromatic scent, its sandwich counterpart didn’t smell like much at all. So naturally the next course of action was to take a big bite out of it.

Hm! The sandwich is made with salt-broth ramen, and the flavor of the broth has been thoroughly infused into the noodles, which is pretty delicious. It’s different from a yakisoba sandwich, where the sauce is the flavor that stands out the most. In this sandwich, the noodles are the MVP. Their lightly salty flavor meshes quite well together with the sweet taste of the hot dog bun.

It’s not Japan’s most ingenious culinary invention by far, but it’s a fairly tasty sandwich for what it is, and, honestly, it exceeded our expectations. We also give it points for uniqueness and artful delivery, so it’s worth sampling. If you happen to find yourself in the neighborhood of this cafe while on your Kyoto Ninja Tour, don’t hesitate to try it!

Restaurant information
Happy Buns
Kyoto-shi Higashiyama-ku Higashiwara-cho 690
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed Wednesdays

Photos ©SoraNews24
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