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.
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!
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.
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.
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