We Like Pork Buns and We Cannot Lie
Anyone who has been to Japan but not indulged in a few too many convenience store steamed buns hasn't truly experienced the real Japan, have they?
Members of our Experience Niseko team sat down with some of Niseko's most weird and wonderful steamed buns and, just like a panel of judges on your favourite reality cooking show, they analysed, critiqued and scored them each out of 5 stars.
Description: The classic, standard pork bun. Fluffy white dough, filled with a pork-based mixture.
Vicky: A konbini classic and crown winner. Just got off the mountain and need to refuel? Pork bun. Waiting for a ride in the snow? Pork bun. A tad tipsy and want a munchie? A good ol' dirty pork bun. Doesn't get 5 stars because one is never enough, got to go for the extra-large sized bun. 4/5
Evan: I’m with you. This is a safe bet but damn it’s good. I couldn’t be certain, but I think it’s a mix of pork, onion and cabbage, perfectly mixed and surrounded by yummy soft dough. I could eat ten of these. 4.5/5
Nolan: Considering its mass-produced-thrown-into-every-bun-incubator-in-Japan process, this bun goes down easy and is the perfect combination of tasty proteins and carbs for consumption on both sides of the smash pow missions. 5/5
How much and where: ¥150 from Seicomart
Description: Not a ‘bun’ in the true sense of the word, rather cake-like in texture, filled with melted chocolate.
Evan: This was a risk I wish we didn’t take. Can something be both bone dry and sticky? 'Cause this is. It tastes like a Post-It Note… never again. 1/5
Vicky: Reminds you of a sad leftover chocolate birthday cake that didn't get the love it deserved. Chewy dough doesn't work with the consistency of the chocolate here. Don't rate this. 1/5
Nolan: Just thinking about this bun makes my stomach feel uneasy. 1/5
How much and where: ¥120 from Seicomart
Hello Kitty Bun
Description: Employing the time-proven Japanese concept that is making everyday items unnecessarily adorable, this is the standard pork bun dough, decorated with Hello Kitty eyes, nose, whiskers and ears, made from that same dough, coloured. Centre is an apple/custard mix.
Nolan: A mix of apple and custard is a great hit to the taste buds but the custard aroma and flavours are a bit weak. 3 stars for effort. 3/5
Evan: Much better flavours than I was anticipating. I thought this one, more than the others, would cater to Japanese tastebuds but not mine. I was wrong. The apple gives this some bite and it’s just as oishii as it is kawaii. 4/5
Vicky: This is Japan. That innocent Hello Kitty face lures you to buy one for a ‘gram worthy shot. Apple and custard cream work surprisingly well with the plain bun. Cute and oiishi af, what’s not to love!? 5/5
How much and where: ¥200 from Lawson
Description: Familiar doughy bun exterior, with cheese and tomato sauce filling. Colour of dough has a slightly mustard tinge. Stamped with ‘pizza’ emblem.
Nolan: Runny tomato sauce and a touch of cheese is enough to remind me of pizza but won't make me too full like a pizza. Good appetite kick-starter. 4/5
Vicky: This is like an Asian mum's attempt at a margarita pizza. No crust but the savoury sauce satisfies late-night cravings. Cheese pull on point. 4/5
Evan: As a clueless gaijin (foreigner) in Japan, it can be nerve-wracking biting in to one of these things. You’re never quite sure what lies inside. So, the little ‘pizza’ stamp is reassuring. And yep, it tastes as you’d expect. Cheesy and full of tomato sauce, I’m thankful for the tissue that came with it. Can I give this a 7 out of 11? No? Okay, 4/5
How much and where: ¥128 from 7-eleven
Red Bean Paste Bun
Description: A generous portion of thick red bean paste fills the centre of this white fluffy bun. Interesting exterior design without typical bun wrinkles, for streamlined effect and to make it more aerodynamic when thrown… we guess.
Vicky: Another classic but very rich, this can be a bit too much after the first two bites. 3/5
Nolan: Decent attempt at a red bean bun but it is a bit too mushy with no classic red bean paste textures to round off the experience. 3/5
Evan: I like this one, it’s a Japanese staple. Pork bun for your main meal, red bean-paste bun for desert – that’s how champions are made. 4.5/5
How much and where: ¥120 from 7-eleven
Coco Curry Bun
Description: Made in partnership with Japanese road-side food-chain Coco Curry, this bun contains a slightly spicy, thick curry sauce centre.
Evan: I wish I hadn’t seen what this looked like on the inside before trying it. 2.5/5
Vicky: Could be spicier for foreigners. 3/5
Nolan: Smells great but kicks like a bronco. 3/5
How much and where: ¥130 from Lawson
Tune in next month when we review the best of the best (and the worst of the worst) convenience store CHICKEN in Niseko!
For more super-crazy Japanese fun and mayhem, check out our review of this year's Yukitopia Snow Festival.