Junk Food in Japan: Otokomae Tofu Cream Pan Sweet Bread

I have been captivated by a duo of new junk food products in Japan! Here is the first of the duo. This is convenience store junk food sweet bread flavored with tofu. The tofu is made by a an upstart tofu company in rural Kyoto called Otokomae Tofuten that burst onto the scene about five years ago. Their brand name is Otokomaedofu, or Handsome Guy Tofu.

In Japan, kuri-mu pan, or cream bread is ubiquitous and countless variations abound. This is a baked bread bun that is filled with custard cream and it is often flavored with something, coffee, fruit, maccha and so on. While I don’t recall having tofu flavored cream pan, I am sure it is not unheard of. This product is actually a korabo between Otokomae Tofuten and Pasco, a mass producer of bread in Japan.

Otokomae Tofu: Good Tofu is Creamy Tofu
The more soybeans that are used in tofu the creamier in texture and fruitier in fragrance and taste it becomes and Otokomae Tofuten uses lots of quality soybeans. While doing the research for this article, I realized that I need to interview Otomomae Tofuten and do a proper article about the company and their brand of excellent tofu.

On all of the Otokomae Tofu products the ‘男’ (otoko) character is featured prominently. This is the Chinese character that means man. Otokomae (男前) means handsome.

Junk Food in Japan: Otokomae Tofu Cream Pan Sweet Bread  男前豆腐店クリームパン

Otokomaedofu has an Un-Kyoto Brand Identity - 男 (otoko) means 'Man'

Junk Food in Japan: Otokomae Tofu Cream Pan Sweet Bread  男前豆腐店クリームパン

Otokomaedofu Cream Pan and Otokomaedofu Tofu and Package

Junk Food in Japan: Otokomae Tofu Cream Pan Sweet Bread  男前豆腐店クリームパン

Otokomaedofu Cream Pan

Junk Food in Japan: Otokomae Tofu Cream Pan Sweet Bread  男前豆腐店クリームパン

Otokomaedofu Cream Pan - Tofu Cream Custard Filling

How Did Otokomae Tofu Cream Pan Sweet Bread Taste?
I thought that this kuri-mu pan tasted very good. I have never been really excited about Japanese kuri-mu pan but I do pick this one up a few times a week. I especially like the tofu cream filling, it is very thick, a bit beyond creamy, approaching chilled cream cheese in consistency.

The bread bun is typical Japanese mediocre bread. It is soft, yet firm and rather chewy. The thick tofu cream filling is pure white in color as opposed to the usual off-white of kuri-mu pan fillings. Otokomae tofu is the heaviest, densest and most fragrant tofu that I have had, including compared to the legendary Morika Tofu in Kyoto. The filling is surely meant to evoke that density and definitely has the Otokomae tofu taste and fragrance.

When eaten the tastes of bread, cream and tofu meld together into a taste and feeling that was unique among kuri-mu pan for me.

As I eat (and enjoy) this, I find myself wondering if this is really Otokomae tofu I am tasting or a chemical approximation of what kuri-mu pan would taste like if it really were made with Otokomae tofu. But hey, this is junk food!

Availability
According to Otokomaedofu’s blog this product will be available until February 28, 2010 in supermarkets and convenience stores in the Kanto, Chubu and Kansai regions (roughly the area between Tokyo and Osaka). Their tofu can be found in the tofu sections of most supermarkets.

Junk Food in Japan: Otokomae Tofu Cream Pan Sweet Bread  男前豆腐店クリームパン

From the Company Profile Page on Website - 'DonDondoko' is the Boss

Mothers Don’t Let Your Babies Grow-up to Work at Otokomaedofu!
Though they make crazy great tofu, this is one odd company. In Japan, this is a company from the very wrong side of the tracks and one that is not really even plausible in old Kyoto. Despite the wacky corporate identity and website, this is a company to be reckoned with. Not just because it makes amazing tofu, but because just three years after the company opened for business the boss (shown above) was giving demonstrations abroad and actually shipping tofu to the US! (See this 2007 Japan Times article for details.)

According to commenter Akiko, the company profile above is fiction.

Links
Otokomae Tofuten Corporate Website (Japanese only)
Otokomae Tofuten on Facebook (in English)
Pasco Shikishima Baking Company (Japanese)

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7 Responses to “Junk Food in Japan: Otokomae Tofu Cream Pan Sweet Bread”

  1. Dennis says:

    I’ve tried Otokomae Tofu here several times and it is very good! As you describe very flavorful and fragrant. Love the packaging too! :)

  2. akiko says:

    The boss you mentioned in your article is not the real boss. The story in the website is a fiction.

  3. [...] to commenter Akiko, the company profile above is fiction. If that is the case I think they might be in violation of [...]

  4. kat says:

    I love their tofu, gonna look for these in the convenience stores :) BTW, I heard their company only hires guys to make and deliver their tofu.

  5. J says:

    Mitsuwa carries this brand of tofu in their US stores, including particular a delicious product called “Johnny” which is surfboard shaped and very creamy. I’m hoping that one day they will have their cream pan, because they have other imported cream pans available.

    Any chance of seeing factory / HQ pics in Kyoto?

  6. Peko Peko says:

    Hello Dennis, Where we you able to purchase their tofu? They sell it in the US and Hong Kong, in limited quantities and most of the price goes into air shipping. It is definitely worth buying and trying at least once if you are a foodie.

    Hello akiko, Thanks for letting me know, I think that the website is rather misleading. I couldn’t find the actual company profile on the site. I enjoyed the story though!

    Hi kat, Guys, as in like no women allowed? I saw gals in the office up there but didn’t get to see how they make it.

    Hello J, Yes, Johnny is great and that is the product that the founder really built the company upon. You can get Japanese cream pan in the US now? Great!

    Regarding the HQ, actually I went up there yesterday. I was hoping to get at least a glimpse of how they make their tofu, but no such luck. Strictly off-limits. (One of the oldest restaurants in the world, Honke Owariya let us document and publish how they make their sacred dashi, so I thought that I might at least get a peek at the otokomae production.)

    I am working on an article about the company now and until it is done, here is a photo of the otokomae founder in front of his otokomae statue at the entrance to the otokomae HQ.

  7. Molly says:

    Hey, excellant article!

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