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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogAnpan and More: Six Amazing Japanese Breads!

Anpan and More: Six Amazing Japanese Breads!

James LauJames Lau
Published Time
Posted on 
August 17, 2023
Modified Time
Updated last 
April 24, 2024
Anpan on a tray.

When we think of Japanese cuisine, sushi, ramen, and tempura often come to mind. However, did you know Japan also has a wide variety of delicious bread? Japanese bread, or pan, has its unique twist, reflecting the country’s culinary creativity. We’ll go through six popular Japanese bread varieties: shokupan, anpan, melonpan, yakisoba pan, karepan, and korokke pan!

Anpan: Sweet Red Bean-Filled Delight!

Anpan, born from the fusion of Western-style baking techniques and traditional Japanese flavors, is a beloved snack that marries the goodness of bread with a timeless treat – sweet red bean paste or anko. The soft and tender dough provides a delicate shell for the delicious anko.

Anpan on a cutting board.
Anpan goes great with tea! Image via Shutterstock

Created by a creative baker named Yasubei Kimura in the late 19th century, Anpan quickly captured people’s hearts and taste buds across Japan. It perfectly balances the slightly salty bread exterior and the naturally sweet filling. Anpan is a heartwarming breakfast option, a delightful snack, or a comforting addition to a cup of green tea.

Shokupan: The Pillowy White Bread!

Shokupan, often called the “everyday bread” of Japan, holds a special place in the hearts of Japanese people. Its name roughly translates to “eating bread” in Japanese, highlighting its place as a staple food. This soft, fluffy, and slightly sweet bread is comparable to American white bread but with a uniquely Japanese touch. The bread’s light texture and gentle sweetness match it with various toppings and fillings.

A loaf of shokupan.
Shokupan is soft and fluffy! Image via Shutterstock

Its appeal lies explicitly in its adaptability – it’s perfect for toasting to a warm golden hue, making sandwiches delicious with fresh ingredients, or simply enjoying a spread of butter and jam. The delightful texture and mild sweetness make it a favorite among people of all ages, from children’s lunchboxes to elegant teatime gatherings.

Melonpan: A Cookie-Crusted Wonder!

Despite its name, melonpan‘s flavor is not similar to melons. Instead, the name comes from its distinctive appearance, resembling the textured skin of a cantaloupe. This Japanese bakery favorite is characterized by its cookie-like crust, often decorated with a crisscross pattern. It creates a visual treat that’s almost too good to eat.

Two pieces of melonpan, which is a sweet bread like anpan.
Melonpan is especially popular in Asakusa! Image via Shutterstock

To emphasize, melonpan is a dream of softness and fluffiness, a perfect contrast to the slightly crunchy and sweet exterior. While plain versions are standard, adventurous bakers and bakeries might surprise you! Mainly if they use fillings such as rich cream or custard! Overall, these ingredients raise the melonpan experience to new heights of delight.

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Yakisoba Pan: Fusion of Noodles and Bread!

The yakisoba pan is proof of Japan’s food creativity and willingness to experiment. This unique creation mixes the familiar comfort of Western-style bread with the unmistakable flavors of yakisoba, a beloved Japanese noodle stir-fry dish. The result is a sandwich that represents a harmony of tastes.

Yakiboda noodles in a bun, also known as yakisoba pan.
Yakisoba pan combines soft noodles and firm bread! Image via Shutterstock

To create a yakisoba pan, yakisoba noodles are stir-fried with colorful vegetables and a tangy-sweet sauce. This mouthwatering noodle mixture then goes between slices of bread. As a result, it combines the noodles’ chewiness with the bread’s softness. It’s a truly unique and satisfying meal on the go, showing Japan’s gift for culinary fusion.

Karepan: Curry-Filled Delight!

Karepan, short for “curry bread,” is a savory delight that plays into Japan’s great love for curry. Imagine sinking your teeth into a soft bun, only to be met with a burst of rich, flavorful curry filling. The dough is tender and sweet, perfectly differentiating the aromatic curry inside.

Two pieces of curry bread or kare pan.
Karepan is an everyday treat at convenience stores! Image via Shutterstock

Its journey began as a humble snack that quickly captured hearts with its powerful blend of textures and flavors. It’s a popular choice for a quick snack or a light lunch, delivering the taste of Japanese curry in a portable package. Each bite treats you to a symphony of flavors that speak to Japan’s culinary diversity.

Korokke Pan – Crispy Croquette Goodness

Korokke pan is a delightful combination of two loved comfort foods: croquette and bread. A korokke is a deep-fried patty of mashed potatoes, meat, or seafood, coated in crunchy breadcrumbs. With a korokke pan, this crispy treat is inside a soft bun, creating a balanced combination of textures and flavors.

A plate of korokke pan--two potato croquets in a bun.
Korokke pan is a croquet sandwich! Image via Shutterstock

The contrast between the crispy croquette and the pillowy bread is a tasty delight that draws you in with every bite. The croquette’s outer crunch gives way to the bread’s gentle texture, making each mouthful a satisfying bite. Whether enjoyed as a quick snack or a hearty meal, Korokke Pan captures the essence of comfort food with a Japanese twist.

Why are these six Japanese breads so good?

Japanese bread goes beyond the traditional perception of Japanese cuisine, offering a wide range of flavors, textures, and creative fusions. From the classic comfort of shokupan to the original fusions like yakisoba pan, each variety has a unique story and a distinct taste. 

Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of Tokyo or enjoying a quiet moment at home, these Japanese breads will surely excite your taste buds and offer a glimpse into Japan’s culinary world. Have you ever eaten any of these breads? Which one was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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