Right off the bat, let’s get one thing straight. Melon bread, aka melon pan, is one of Japan’s most delicious snack foods. With a sweet, buttery cookie crust, it’s become a staple of Japanese bakeries and convenience stores, and we’re always happy to eat as much of it as we can.
But for all its deliciousness, the inner section of melon pan is a pretty plain, if fluffy, mass of white bread. That’s why sometimes you can buy just melon bread crusts, but we recently stumbled across a place that keeps melon bread’s half-sphere shape while putting a delicious filling in the middle.
That place is Saiyuki, located in the Chinatown neighborhood of Yokohama, the bayside city 30 minutes south of Tokyo. As for the filling, it’s something very near and dear to our hearts: mouthwatering pork!
Specifically, it’s the type of barbecued pork known as chashu in Japan, or char siu in Chinese culinary traditions. Since our willpower to resist meaty indulgence is pretty much as low as our ability to say no to sweets, we knew this was something we had to try.
▼ We did show at least a little restraint by getting the three-piece, 600-yen set of chashu melon bread instead of the six-piece, though.
Picking one up from the tray, we noticed it was smaller than conventional melon bread, fitting comfortably into the palm of our hand.
Before taking a bite we had a moment’s trepidation as we wondered if adding pork to a dessert, or cookie crust to a meat dish, was really such a great idea. Then we actually took the first bite and had our answer, which was…
…yes, it was a very good idea!
The cookie crust here is thinner than normal melon bread, so the buttery sweetness doesn’t overpower the pork filling. Instead, it enhances the flavor of the meat, and with chashu already having a salty sweet flavor profile, everything creates a satisfying synergy for your taste buds.
So in the end, chashu melon bread turned out to be an unlikely but winning combination.
Saiyuki / 西遊記
Address: Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama, Naka-ku, Yamashitacho, 149-1-1
Open 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
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