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Matt's Culinary Conquest
Japanese Bean Pancakes
"Kuriiri Dorayaki" and "Funwari Yaki"
// article by Matt

It's always fun to seek out the pitiful selection of Japanese food I can find near to where I live. Being so closely situated to a city with many universities and colleges, with it comes many cultures who all need their fix of the food and drink they consume back home. This makes it incredibly easy to get a hold of foreign cuisine, and on this occasion I will be sampling two traditional Japanese pancakes.

These pancakes are made and packaged in Japan by a company called "Marukyo". Each one comes individually cellophane-wrapped, and the items can easily be ordered in bulk online, which I may be tempted to do in the near future to save the amount of trekking off the beaten path required to find some of these items nearby, and cost.

Kuriiri Dorayaki

This is a Japanese pancake filled with red beans and chestnut, sweetened with sugar and glucose syrup. Ouch, them calories, all 201 of them. It contains far more E-numbers than any human being should consume (a whopping 11) and contains allergens Wheat, Milk and Soy. Wait, is resident musician SoyBomb an allergen? This pancake is small, but mighty.

The smell test wasn't a success. The Kuriiri Dorayaki reeks of unappealing, especially the bean paste between the two halves. It feels squishy between the fingers. As for the taste test, better. The pancake is soft, spongy, and borderline starchy. It is made smoother by the introduction of the bean paste, which is unfathomably artificially sweet.

The taste is indeed nutty, as one might expect, with the bean taste merely perched on the backseat. While not something I would personally eat, this pancake is in no way disgusting, and I would be happy to eat one if offered to by a friend or if it was inexpensive. This pancake was not cheap enough for me to consider buying another one, but this is because it came from a World Foods aisle at Tesco, where they always charge a premium.

Funwari Yaki

This one stinks even through the packaging. This pancake is the same as before, but without the chestnut, making it simply filled with red beans, sugar and sweetener. Again it contains calories, like most food, and in this case it's a lesser 173. This pancake also contains the same allergens and E-numbers, so don't feed it to anybody with a poor attention span. As you defeat enemies with shots, they turn into animals.

Yes, the bean smell is far more pronounced this time. The two spongy halves of the pancake are closer together and stuck shut, requiring them to be peeled back to get a sniff of the paste. I shouldn't have bothered, because the smell was not welcoming. Don't worry, dear stomach, you are not being left out, I have to consume this.

The pancake sponge is again chewy and fluffy, there seemingly only to keep the paste contained within. The paste is, once again, very sweet, and a juxtaposition to the horrendous smell. The sweeteners and sugar used in this product are very welcome indeed. I am pleased to inform you that while the bean taste is stronger in this pancake, it is still underplayed. I can only imagine how good a version of the product, made with chocolate would taste, but until such a thing exists, this isn't a bad tasting snack.

* * * * *

These pancakes are obviously tailored towards the Japanese tastebuds, but even so, they are reasonably tasty. I can see these as a good snack for whenever I stream Japan-only games or I'm catching up on my anime. However, at the cost to buy them as a consumer, they are not a worthwhile purchase. Instead, ordering them online through a distributor looks to be cheaper, and with a greater selection. To find these products at my nearest Tesco store that stocks them, I have to go all the way to the back of the store, past the sign that says "Beware of Shark".

Japanese bean pancakes are certainly an experience that should be tried at least once, but I don't imagine I'll be rushing to buy any more soon.


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