The idea of incorporating this classic ramen flavor into Hong Kong-style street food sounds delicious!

When you think of Nissin Foods, you’ll probably first think of Cup Noodle, because honestly, Cup Noodle is iconic. But Nissin is a huge company with other brands–other ramen brands, even–and one of those is Demae Itcho, which comes in bagged form rather than cup form. Demae Itcho is sold in over 40 countries and regions in the world, but its footprint is strongest in Hong Kong, where it’s the number one best-selling instant ramen. The instant noodle brand actually has over 40 flavors in Hong Kong, so you might even call it a comfort food in the region.

This month marks the 55th anniversary of Demae Itcho’s release, and so to celebrate Nissin has teamed up with the popular Hong Kong yum cha specialty restaurant, Shofukumon, for a special limited-time-only collaboration restaurant.

Our Japanese-language reporter Masanuki Sunakoma happened to be strolling around Yokohama Chinatown when he stumbled upon it. Since he was ready for a break, he went inside, where the special event menu of Demai Itcho-based yum cha, which is dim sum served with Chinese tea, caught his eye. “Why not?” he thought, and decided to order some.

The theme of the limited-time-only restaurant is a Hong Kong street stall run by Demae Boya, the little boy mascot featured on the Demae Itcho packaging. The inside is designed to look like a street in Hong Kong, and the special menu is designed to give you a taste of “a Hong Kong-style Demae Itcho” without leaving Japan.

According to Masanuki’s investigation, Demae Boya is known as Chanchai in Hong Kong, which in Cantonese apparently means “Nissin Child”. Nissin couldn’t have come up with a more fitting nickname. In any case, Chanchai was sitting at the entrance to the restaurant, wearing a mischievous smile.

Inside, a timeline describing Demae Itcho’s 55 years of history was on display, as well as an exhibition detailing popular Demae Itcho flavors across the world.

After exploring a bit, Masanuki decided to order from the limited-edition menu. Sadly, the delicious-looking “Stewed Cubed Meat Itcho Dog” was sold out, but they still had “Stewed Cubed Meat Noodles”, “Demae Itcho-man” steamed buns, and “Demae Boya Ramune Soda”, so Masanuki ordered those. Each item was 550 yen (US$4.13).

The first item to arrive was the Demae Itcho-man. It was a Chinese-style steamed bun with bamboo shoots, noodles cooked in Demae Itcho’s soup, and egg inside. Chanchai’s face was branded onto the top, which was pretty cute.

It was full of Demae Itcho flavors and super delicious. It also had a whole egg in it, which felt quite luxurious.

The Ramune Soda was a drink inspired by Chanchai, made with layers of annin tofu (apricot kernel jelly), strawberry jelly, ramune (which is meant to represent Chanchai’s blue hapi coat), mango cream for his yellow hair, and, lastly, a cherry on top to represent his red nose. It was a very Instagrammable drink, and each layer tasted just as it should.

The Stewed Cubed Meat Noodles felt like the most Hong Kong street-style dish out of the bunch. The soup was made from chicken bone broth with the addition of Jinhua ham, which gave it a very authentic flavor. It came out really quickly, but it looked great and smelled even better. The addition of the fried egg and the leafy greens gave it a very street-food feel.

The cubed meat wasn’t exactly cubed, but it was super thick. It was soft and delicious and paired really well with the nostalgic flavor of Demae Itcho’s sesame and chili oil-seasoned soup.

It was a simple flavor that reminded Masanuki of his previous trips to Hong Kong. Masanuki hadn’t expected it to taste so good since it was so cheap, but ramen is clearly where Demae Itcho’s flavors really shine (which is obvious in hindsight).

They are also offering Chicken Soba and Shrimp Wanton Noodles, which both sound delicious, so definitely consider trying out this limited-time-only restaurant in Yokohama Chinatown before it’s gone! It will be around through April 2, so you have plenty of time to make a trip. And while you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to also try the area’s special Chashu Melon Bread if you’re feeling adventurous!

Restaurant information:
Demae Itcho’s Hong Kong Food Stall (Shofukumon Yokohama Branch) / 出前坊やの香港屋台 (招福門 横浜本)
Address: Kanagawa-ken Yokohama-shi Chuku Yamashitacho 81-3
Hours: Weekdays: 11:30-5 p.m., Weekends and holidays: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed: Every Wednesday in February and March 7 and 14

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