Friday, August 7, 2015

Kimuraya : The Great Grandfather of Modern Anpan Bread

I really thought that Kimura-ya 木村屋was opened by famous pop idol Kimura Takuya when I was a kid. That was, of course, before I even knew how to pronounce あいうえお (A-I-U-E-O) 
Anyway, I believe this traditional bread house needs no further introduction. Established its roots in the glitzy branded Ginza district, Kimura-ya's four-storey high wooden structure did not appear too incongruous with the rest as it was rebuilt in Showa 2 after the Kanto Earthquake. Day and night, you can see tourists and locals alike thronging this shop for its wide selection of breads, and most importantly, its legendary an-pan bread
After all, this is the place that gave birth to the first an-pan bread in Japan. Its first generation owner, Kimura, was a samurai who first presented the Sakura An-pan (Salted Cherry Blossom bread) made with sake lees instead of the traditional yeast to the Meiji Emperor in Meiji 8 (1875). This recipe have passed down the generations and withstood the test of time as there are a variety of flavours such as edamame, cream cheese, figs, sweet beans, etc 

It is not an overstatement to say that the humble red bean bun here is extremely tasty as the pickled sakura helped to cut through the cloying sweetness. The buns are soft, but not the ultra fluffy kinds. Yet they have an edgy fermented alcohol aroma which set them a notch above the rest. 
During the spring-summer season, there was a matcha fair and one of the best discovery I made was the matcha-an (green tea bean paste) butter bun. It tasted so rich and good, like a deluxe version of kaya butter toast.

Other signatures include the sinful deep fried curry bun and melon pan. I had the special edition coffee-flavored melon pan but it was not fantastic, neither was the regular melon pan which was too dry. 
There are hundreds of outlets all over Japan in department stores or within supermarkets where you can buy the breads. For the widest variety, head to the Ginza outlet where you can find special items like this Kuromame and Kinako Cream Croissant Cube (¥227) or Matcha Scones. 

The croissant was rather disappointing because the pastry was soggy and the cream filling was scarce. Nonetheless, the matcha scones were surprisingly rich in the taste and even better than some western bakeries. 
You might chance upon these colorful five "stones" that are actually traditional bean paste pastries similar to those Wagashi been sweets except that the pastry skin is baked. Unless you have a high threshold for sugar, skip these as their sweetness makes it challenging for most people to take a second bite.

Running short of time to try the bread on the spot? I suggest you can take away the assorted mini an-pan (including the original Sakura of course) before catching your flight back home. 

Kimura Ya 木村屋
Tokyo, Chuo ku, Ginza 4-5-7
Daily 10am-9pm
Nearest station: Ginza
For full list of outlets in Tokyo, Chiba and Saitama Prefecture, click here
Official Website: https://www.kimuraya-sohonten.co.jp/

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