OF all the weird and wonderful creations to have come out of Japan – from Pokemon to Hello Kitty – perhaps the strangest is a laid-back egg character called Gudetama.

It may look like a child’s drawing, but in the Land of the Rising Sun, this cute ovoid cartoon creation is a cultural phenomenon.

Taking its name from the Japanese words for ‘lazy’ and ‘egg’, Gudetama’s image graces everything from lunch boxes to clothing, stationery to little books of ‘eggsistential’ (groan!) wisdom.

And now the little dude has arrived in Oxford – inspiring a special autumn menu at that temple of authentically Japanese cuisine, Shoryu Ramen.

Anyone dining at the hip Westgate noodle restaurant up to October 14 can tuck into a three-course Gudetama-themed autumn menu for £22. And that is all the temptation I needed to pop down to the Westgate earlier this week for a slightly surreal, but immensely enjoyable, insight into Japanese food and culture. And that started the minute we arrived – when cheery manager Mohamed welcomed us, startlingly, with a loud ‘bong’ on a traditional drum and a shouted greeting.

The menu is refreshingly simple, consisting principally of a variety of noodle types, served in broth with a choice of accompaniments.

There are also some stunning side dishes including its signature buns.

The Gudetama set menu starts with one of the very same: a barbecue pork bun: a juicy slice of char siu pork belly with oodles of Japenese mayo served burger-style in a steamed dough bun. And because it’s fun, it came topped with a Gudetama flag _ disconcertingly showing the yolky little fella lying face down on the bun revealing his own shiny ‘buns’ – waiting to be eaten.

Veggies and non-pork eaters could also choose a pumpkin croquette bun.

We accompanied it with some of the sublime offerings from the regular menu. We loved the soy marinated chicken karaage (£7.50) – the tender meat fried in a coating so crisp it crackled.

We also tucked into soft shell crab tempura (£9.50) – which was a rather decadent dish of long and oddly-shaped crab legs and sweet-centered body parts coated in the lightest and driest tempura batter which we dipped in light soy sauce.

Oxford Mail:

Then it was on to the main event: a bowl of the venue’s signature noodles: Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu – a 12 hour pork broth ramen topped with slices of more of that tasty char siu barbecue pork belly, kikurage mushrooms, spring onion, sesame, ginger, slices of nori seaweed, lots of shallots... and an egg decorated with Gudetama’s sleepy features – which, while endearing, did not stop me from devouring in a flurry of chopsticks.

The hot steaming broth, with just the right amount of spice, was gorgeous and just the thing for knocking a cold on the head.

The alternative, great for veggies, vegans, non pork-eaters and gluten free-rangers, is a satisfying bowl of ramen going by the name White Natural. This is a witches brew of tonyu soy milk, miso, konbu and shitake mushroom broth, lovely yielding tofu slices, beautifully textured bamboo shoots, more of those kikurage mushrooms, spring onions and seaweed.

Its wholesomeness, you’ll be pleased to hear, does not involve any compromise in flavour; that mushroomy broth is a winner.

You can also choose the hardness of your noodles – go for firm and slightly chewy for a decent bite.

In keeping with the theme, a Gudetama egg is served on the side. Of course.

These were washed down with a Gudetama drink of mango iced tea in a themed plastic cup and served on a very cool coaster which I was invited to take away, and is now gracing my work desk.

I confess we also polished off a bottle of very decent, satisfyingly dry and crisp, Piattini pinot grigio (26.50).

If you can manage it, there are a pair of desserts of mini yuzu or mini mango mochi icecreams served in their own Gudetama cup – all of which sounded good, though I stuck to an espresso (in a regular vessel).

It was a fun meal: the perfect blend of kitsch and kitchen with flavours to savour – and I’ll be back. No yolk!

  • Shoryu Ramen, Westgate, Oxford. Gudetama menu until October14 shoryuramen.com
  • Oxford Mail: