The Melon Pan, the Japanese brioche メロンパン
The Japanese sweet bun, the perfect Japanese snack
By its round and generous shape, the melon pan invites you to indulge. Its cracked appearance looks like a melon, but does it taste like it? Melon bun or "melon pan" is an original Japanese pastry comparable to sugar brioche. It consists of a brioche dough covered with a cracked cookie-like dough which gives it its crunchy texture.
MELON PAN, MELON Bread?
Although its name refers to it, melon pan (pan is a word borrowed from Portuguese for bread) is not melon bread! Some people venture to accent with melon flavor, but the basic recipe consists mainly of butter, milk, and sugar. The first melon pan had an oval shape, like that of a Korean melon that they were supposed to imitate, hence their cracked rind. If the current melon pan is better known in its round form, there are still oval, elongated, or even cylindrical ones, depending on the region.
With its success, it is not uncommon to find chocolate chips, matcha, or garnished with pastry cream. The variations of the product are numerous and vary according to the region. For example, Melon pan no kawa. Here, the brioche disappears and only the crispy dough (kawa) on top is tasted.
- Read also: Taiyaki, Japanese waffles
MELON PAN: TASTE GREAT BUT NOT AN HEALTHY OPTION
Considering the popularity of this delicacy and the place it had taken, sometimes served as breakfast or for lunch dessert for schoolchildren, the Japanese Ministry of Health deemed the nutritional qualities to be inadequate and not endorsable... but remains to be extremely popular!
What some parents had naively taken for bread (as the name suggests), turned out to be a product containing aluminum sulfate, present in the baking powder used in large quantities to add volume to the buns and to give a crispy crust. In addition, the melon pan is full of artificial colors and flavors that are particularly unhealthy. Another observation: a single bun contains between 400 and 500 calories, mainly from sugars and fats, with little nutritional benefits.
So eat with discretion!
Melon Pan Recipe:
A good spot if you are passing through the Asakusa district: the Kagetsudo house. Founded in 1945, this shop was originally specialized in candies. Today, it is famous for its Jumbo melon pan, a giant bun that is all the more delicious. Despite a high daily production (over 2,000 units), the store often closes its doors before 4.30 pm once it sells out! Do expect to wait in line.
To get to the shop from the Nakamise-dori shopping alley leading to the Sensô-ji temple, take the path to your left, just after passing the imposing censer.
- Address: 2 Chome-7-13 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0032
- Hours: open every day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Official site
Sekai de Nibanme ni Oishii Yakitate Melon Pan Ice
"The second-best melon ice cream pan in the world". This shop located about an 8 min walk from Shibuya Station (near Yoyogi Park) serves fresh-baked, ice-cream-filled melon pan (multiple flavors to choose from). Why the second best? We have no idea...
- Address: Iwase Building 1-15-9 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0041
- Hours: open every day from 11:00 am to 10:00 am
Melon Pan Factory (Oimachi)
Here, you can taste melon pan with different flavors. 1 min walk from the Omachi station.
- Address: 6 Chome-2-1 Higashioi, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
- Hours: open every day except Monday from 10:30 am to 9:00 pm
The famous Ginza bakery is best known for its rolls filled with red bean paste (an pan) but it also serves melon pan filled with a cream flavored with melon puree. 1 min walk from Marunouchi Ginza station, exit A9.
- Address: 4-5-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
- Hours: open every day from 10 am to 9 pm
THE MELON PAN, STAR CHARCTER IN A MANGA
The melon pan is an institution itself in Japan, so much so that it gradually gained popular culture status as a Manga character.
In Anpanman, a famous manga for children, the sister of the main character is none other than Melonpanna, an adoring charcter with superpowers with a head of none other than Melon Pan!
- Read also: The different genres of manga