Like a tiny plastic model from a gacha capsule toy machine, but totally edible.

Japan is a treasure trove of adorable products and regional delicacies, some of which are so special locals like to keep them a secret all to themselves.

The Sano Ramen Cake is one of them. 

We never would’ve found out about this delightful sweet had we not stopped by the Sano Service Area, a big highway rest stop along the Tohoku Expressway in Tochigi Prefecture.

▼ As indicated by the many icons next to it, the Sano Service Area has a variety of services on offer, like restaurants, a gasoline stand, and dog runs.

When we pulled into the service area, though, we found that it looked to be undergoing some major renovations.

Thankfully, a temporary 24-hour store has been set up for customers while renovations are in progress, so we headed on over to see what local specialties it had to offer.

▼ That’s where we found, in the freezer section…

▼ …a ramen cake!

Sano is famous for ramen, so this was a very sweet way to pay homage to the local cuisine in the area. According to the sign, the cake was said to have been made in collaboration with a popular local cake shop called “Ichigo to Banana” (“Strawberry and Banana”), ultimately transforming Sano Ramen, the pride of locals, into a delicious sweet.

▼ The cute cake is sold in a capsule-like casing that makes it look like a gacha capsule toy.

When we paid for the cake, staff at the register advised us to wait around 10 minutes before cracking the cake open, to allow it to come to room temperature. We’re used to waiting three minutes when eating instant ramen, so another seven minutes wouldn’t be too long a wait to enjoy a ramen treat that looked this sweet.

▼ After ten minutes, we lifted the lid, and were rewarded with this beautiful bowl of ramen!

It looked absolutely scrumptious, and its resemblance to ramen was uncanny. On top, there were familiar noodle toppings like menma (fermented bamboo shoots), char-siu, and naruto (cured fish surimi), only these were made from candied chestnuts, chocolate and marzipan, respectively.

▼ The surface of the noodles is actually Mont Blanc.

Diving into the mini meal, we discovered there were three layers hiding beneath the noodles: fresh cream, sponge, and custard cream. This was more than just a great-looking cake, as a wealth of thought and care had gone into every detail, imparting sweet, creamy, delicious flavours in every bite.

Due to the time and effort required to make them, these unique cakes are generally sold only on Saturdays and Sundays.

We were glad to have come across these unusual ramen cakes, and we highly recommend seeking them out if you’re ever travelling through the area and need a place to refuel your stomach and your vehicle.

Priced at 390 yen (US$2.90), these are an absolute bargain for what you get, and if you’ve got a cooler bag on hand you can always take a few home as souvenirs, along with this locally made sake, which is designed to pair perfectly with ramen.

Photos © SoraNews24
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