It should be noted a priori that Japanese breads are nothing like their western counterparts. The latter is crustier, dryer and has the wheat aroma, while the former is soft, doughy, and sweet. It is white bread that has a standard mold shape, and may be likened to “Wonder Bread” or a “Gardenia Loaf”. This is because the Japanese have an inclination towards the fuwa-fuwa (ふわふわ) texture, which means soft and fluffy. Here we will review some popular Japanese breads and see which ones appeal to you most!
The original master of all breads, melon bun seems to be the undefeated champion in the quotidian lives of the Japanese. Even I have to admit I like this one! It does not even remotely taste like melon, but is instead a sugar crust coated soft bun with crisscross patterns on it. Some types have fillings, as well as various flavors of sugar crust.
Mentaiko is fish roe, the miniature orange balls of fish oil that burst and crunch when bitten. It is also found in form of sushi and is usually mixed with mayonnaise when used as a sauce or topping.
The pronunciation in Japanese is so-se-ji pan, or wiener bun, and is very popular with the Japanese. Granted the so-se-ji and wurst are worlds apart; the so-se-ji is made from minced meat very high in fat.
This bun has the same soft and sweet dough base as the other breads. It comes in a variety of shapes and has either tuna, egg or potato salad wedged in it. The Japanese simply love mayonnaise!
Made from glutinous rice flour, this chewy treat may come in many flavours such as chocolate, cheese, or red bean.
Doughnuts in Japan are rarely made how they should be, except Krispy Kreme ones. Doughnuts are, more often than not, old-fashioned and can be dense and cakey. But a lot of them are also glazed and decorated!
These sandwich packs are commonly given to children in lunch packs, snacks, and are also popular with hikers. They are just like normal sandwiches except that they have their ends cut off. The filling is sealed by the sticky doughiness of the white bread itself. They come in both sweet and savory options including peanut butter, chocolate cream, egg salad, and ham and cheese.
Niku-man literally translates to “meat bun”. This is technically not bread, but it is a staple in every Japanese convenience store. It has Chinese origins and is a steamed bun with a meat (usually pork) filling. Variants in Japan include the pizza or vegetable buns as well.
The Japanese are also known for curry, albeit a different type of curry from the Indian style that we more commonly see. It is sweeter and has a stew-like texture. Curry buns are usually coated in bread crumbs and then deep fried, much like a curry doughnut, or have soft and sweet dough buns. Delish when they’re freshly out of the oven!
Have you seen the variety of buns available at Japanese bakeries or convenience stores? Which is your favorite?
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