They say the first step to curing an addiction is admitting you have a problem. Well here I am, taking that first step. I’ve become addicted to cream custard buns.
|Pre-packaged cream pan you can buy at almost any store.|
It’s gotten to the point that every time I see a bakery I have an almost insatiable urge to go in and buy a piece of bread. It’s never too expensive, rarely over two hundred yen, but it adds up in the end I suppose.
I guess it started when I visited the bakery across from Gotenyama station that I mentioned in a previous blog post. It’s rarely open in the mornings when I pass by, but I’m lucky enough to find it open on the way home after some afternoon classes. It’s a small bakery run by a husband and wife; the husband does most of the baking in the back (I have yet to see him, this is what I’ve heard from a professor who is also a regular there) and the wife runs the front.
|Front of the Gotenyama bakery; it was early so it wasn't open, yet.|
The first time I went there, I found an pan (red bean paste buns) and a cream bun, but I wasn’t sure what the latter was at first, but it sounded good. From the first bite it was perfect. The soft, fluffy sweetness of the bread coupled with the way the cream melts in your mouth… was it addiction at first bite? Now I try and drop by at least once or twice or week. The wife I think has recognized me at this point, and she often tells me my Japanese is very good. She didn’t seem surprised to see a foreigner in her shop however, which makes me wonder if other foreign students have become regulars.
|First bite out of a cream pan.|
There are some variations of cream buns. I’ve found in all my wanderings that actual bakery bread, and not the prepackaged buns in the above photos, is much better. While the pre packaged ones are still delicious, the bakery buns are noticeably fresher, and while the taste varies a bit from bakery to bakery, it’s still absolutely delicious.
Japanese bakeries are different than American bakeries. In America, and Panera Bread comes to mind, there are the bread displays, you order what you like and it is given to you. In Japan, when you walk in there are small plastic trays and tongs next to a display of bread. It’s typically laid out in a line fashion, so you go down this line of bread and put the bread you want on the tray using the tongs. When you’re done, you take it to the cashier, who will check you out and wrap the bread in small individual plastic bags. Voila! Unless I get a drink, three pieces of bread rarely costs over five hundred yen. Most convenience stores just have a rack of bread.
I’ve also tried other forms of Japanese baking, from different types of an pan, melon bread (a misnomer, since the bread a, does not taste like melons, and b, does not have any melon in them), corn bread (with actual corn kernels), and curry buns (with actual curry). Yet I still stand by my assessment. Cream buns are the best.
And you know what? I’m not sure if I want to get over this addiction.