Man or pan? Japan’s new meatless meat buns confuse our taste-tester | SoraNews24 -Japan News-

2022-05-28 12:27:21 By : Ms. Tracy Lim

Bringing you yesterday's news from Japan and Asia, today.

The inside of the No-Filling Steamed Bun still manages to surprise us.

Japanese convenience store chain Lawson Store 100 recently caught our attention with a new kind of steamed bun. Like all steamed buns, its name ends in man, but this isn’t the standard nikuman (meat bun), or one of its beloved variants like the curry-man (curry bun), pizza-man (pizza sauce and cheese bun), or anman (sweet red bean bun). No, this is the Gunashiman…with gunashi meaning “no filling.”

The Gunashiman, or No-Filling Steamed Bun, is sort of a do-it-yourself approach to steamed buns. Since it’s already been proven that steamed buns taste great with a variety of fillings, Lawson Store 100 figures they can leave it up to you to decide what to stuff inside. That’s an especially viable strategy with all of the tasty things Japanese convenience stores have on their shelves, and the chain itself recommends canned teriyaki-glaze yakiroti chicken and thick-cut kakuni pork, to name just two examples, in its promotional photos.

Curious to try the No-Filling Steamed Bun for himself, our Japanese-language reporter Yuichiro Wasai headed to his local Lawson Store 100 branch to pick one up, or actually to pick up two of them, since they come two to a pack for 108 yen (US$0.89).

▼ The bun already has a paper wrapper on its bottom, but Yuichiro put it on a plate anyway, since he’s classy like that.

The No-Filling Steamed Bun is true to its name, being a proper steamed bun with nothing inside. And yet, Yuichiro was still surprised, because in this case “nothing inside” means…

…that there’s not even an air pocket.

Yuichiro had been expecting the inside to be hollow, an empty half sphere into which he could stuff his separately procured filling of choice. Instead, though, the No-Filling Steamed Bun is solid, like a soft, spongy dinner roll, without so much as a pre-made slit for you to pull at to separate it into halves.

On the plus side, this does mean that you’re getting a greater quantity of actual food, since if the No-Filling Steamed Bun did have an empty cavity at the center, you’d essentially be paying for air. The easiest way to add a filling, as shown in the promotional photos, is just to tear the bun in half and sandwich whatever you want in the middle, but there’s also nothing stopping you from picking out enough bread to hollow the bun out and inserting your gilling afterwards.

There aren’t any problems in the flavor department either, as this is a perfectly fine-tasting steamed bun. Linguistically, though, Yuichiro thinks this might be closer to pan (the Japanese word for “bread”) than man.

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