The wonders of Japanese konbini food just levelled up a notch.

Tonkotsu ramen (pork-bone broth ramen) is famous throughout Japan, but one place where it’s extremely popular is in its birthplace of Kyushu. There, locals are spoilt for choice when it comes to tonkotsu ramen options, and one variety you’ll find in many a home is an instant noodle type called Umakacchan.

Released in 1979, Umakacchan is so well-known in Kyushu that our Kyushu-based reporter Takashi Harada says there’s nobody on the island that doesn’t know about it. However, when he was in the area visiting his parents the other day, he realised it was even more popular than he remembered, because now it’s been turned into…chicken nuggets.

Umakacchan instant noodles (left), Umakacchan chicken nuggets (right)

Takashi made the discovery at a local branch of Japanese convenience store chain Lawson. This chain is famous for Karaage-kun, packs of karaage (Japanese fried chicken) that are sold from a heated display case on the counter, and they taste so good that big names like Katy Perry are mad about them.

He’d never seen a tonkotsu-flavoured Karaage-kun before, though!

Takashi wasted no time in purchasing a pack, which contained five pieces of chicken for 238 yen (US$1.64). Taking a quick look online to find out more about his purchase, Takashi found that this variety of Karaage-kun made its debut on 24 March, and is only available at Lawson stores in Okinawa, Kyushu and the Shimonoseki area of ​​Yamaguchi Prefecture.

According to the chain, this new variety was a challenge to create, as it was difficult to replicate the flavour of the pork bone broth in the fried chicken. However, after numerous trials, they say they were able to perfect the unusual pairing, giving Takashi high hopes that this would be a Karaage-kun to remember.

▼ Despite the name, Karaage-kun are known for looking and tasting more like chicken nuggets than traditional karaage.

These pieces are made with only breast meat from domestic chickens, so they’re soft and easy to bite into. How would the tonkotsu flavour taste, though?

▼ Takashi lifted one of the bite-sized morsels to his mouth to find out.

After chewing through the first nugget, Takashi did a little jig of joy because these tasted just like Umakacchan! The aroma was definitely there, fooling him into thinking he was about to slurp up a bowl of tonkotsu ramen, and though the flavour was relatively subtle, its presence was undeniable.

Takashi liked that fact that the flavour of the tonkotsu wasn’t overpowering, because the subtlety made him crave even more of them. Luckily for Takashi, he had a pack of Umakacchan on hand to satisfy his cravings for more tonkotsu, so he was able to eat the two together for the ultimate Umakacchan meal.

There was no big disparity between the dishes, so they made for a fantastic pairing, and it’s a meal he’s looking forward to having again while the limited-edition karaage are still available.

▼ Next time he visits his local Lawson, he’ll pick up one of the chain’s new Umakacchan onigiri rice balls and fried ramen too.

Products like these, which aren’t available in big cities that usually get all the goodies, like Tokyo and Osaka, are a source of great pride for people in the region. After trying the new Karaage-kun, Takashi himself felt an overwhelming sense of joy that such a big collaboration had taken place in his hometown.

It just goes to show that when you’re looking for regional-exclusive treats, Kyushu is a great place to go to — it even has exclusive ice creams at local branches of 7-Eleven!

Images © SoraNews24
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