Pork-stock ramen in onigiri form sounds like a covetous convenience store snack that would require dark powers to create.

If there’s one convenience store chain in Japan that doesn’t have to resort to craziness to draw customers into its shops, its NewDays. Operated by East Japan Railway Company (a.k.a. JR East), the chain has branches right inside some of the busiest train stations in Japan, making NewDays the quickest and easiest-to-grab mainstream snacks and drinks for thousands upon thousands of people passing through the stations each and every day.

And yet, NewDays is still willing to push the combini envelope, and that spirit is embodied in its Sugo Oni, or “Awesome Demon,” rice balls. The Sugo Oni line, as well as its mascot, Sugo Oni-kun, gets its name by inverting and abbreviating the Japanese phrase oni sugoi, literally “demon-amazing,” a slangy way of saying “very amazing.”

▼ In Japan, the reason for just about everything is, eventually, “Because of a pun.”

The over-the-top Sugo Oni line launched last summer with an onigiri rice ball that billed itself as an entire bento lunch that you could hold in your hand. This month, though, NewDays is out to possess our soul with a new Sugo Oni creation called the Tonkotsu Ramen Nigirimashita, or “We Put A Bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen into a Rice Ball.”

Obviously, this is the sort of demonic temptation that we here at SoraNews24 are especially susceptible to, and being both aware of (and comfortable with) our weakness, we immediately went out and bought one.

However, you might recall that quite a while back, before the birth of the Sugo Oni line, NewDays briefly sold miso ramen and soy ramen rice balls, which, tasty as they were, were pretty much regular rice balls with their rice flavored by ramen broth. If that was all we were getting with the new tonkotsu ramen Sugo Oni onigiri, the name We Put A Bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen into a Rice Ball seems like a bit of an oversell, but it turns out…

the We Put A Bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen into a Rice Ball really does have everything that would go into a bowl of ramen, minus the liquid, of course.

Ramen noodles and chashu pork? Check. Ditto for the nitamago stewed hard-boiled egg, naruto fish cake swirl, and menma (fermented bamboo shoots). The rice itself is seasoned with pork-stock ramen broth, with black pepper accents and a bit of mayo, and there’s also some cabbage for good measure.

So how does it taste? As it should: like tonkotsu ramen. The flavor isn’t quite as strong as you’d get from eating a bowl of noodles, probably because you’re not drenching your taste buds with liquid broth, but there’s no way you’d describe the taste as anything other than “tonkotsu ramen.” The nitamago and menma are particularly good at replicating their ramen rolls, though we could have done with a little less cabbage, since the leafy vegetable is usually only used sparingly in ramen in Japan, and sometimes not at all.

At 330 yen (US$2.85) it’s got a pretty hefty price for a convenience store rice ball, but at 200 grams (7.1 ounces) it’s got a pretty hefty weight too, and in the end the We Put A Bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen into a Rice Ball is unique, delicious, and a very admirable case of truth in advertising.

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