Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Smile Oven Big Melon Pan
Melon pan is one of the most superficially misunderstood pastries in Japan. For starters, people assume it's melon flavored. While it may seem illogical to name an item after a component which is often absent, let's consider some other concoctions in English. Are buffalo wings made from the wings of a buffalo? Are nutty bars made by crazy people? They're not even made with real nuts. Are whoopie pies made from or while making whoopie? No, Japan isn't alone in its inconsistency with naming conventions, though at least occasionally melon pan is flavored with melon.
Most of the time, melon pan is what I can only describe as "nothing" flavored. It's really just a big dollop of bread dough covered with crispy cookie dough then baked. At its best, the inside is fluffy bread and the outside is a lightly sweet crispy cookie shell sprinkled lightly with large crystals of sugar. In short, it is pretty much at its best as this Smile Oven melon pan.
All is not beer and skittles on the Smile Oven melon pan front, however. It smells like margarine and the only real flavor it has aside from margarine (not butter, no, no) is sweetness and flour. This is a pure textural sensation. It's a good one though be careful to get a fresh one if you're diving into melon pan territory. Melon pan that's sat around for awhile softens up and a melon pan without a crispy exterior is essentially sweetened white bread.
The biggest problem with the Smile Oven Big Melon Pan is that big doesn't mean better. You're essentially eating margarine-flavored cookie dough wrapped around the equivalent of 4 slices of good quality fresh and fluffy white bread. While you may consume it thinking that it's not that sugary so it can't be that bad for you, consider that it has a whopping 558 calories. Since this isn't the sort of thing that you can save and eat the next day, it's either a case of having to consume a huge processed carb bomb or throw part of it away.
This is a very nice treat, but I ended up eating the shell and tossing most of the bread away. It is good, but not good enough to be a meal substitute and 558 calories is as much as I eat for dinner. If you're walking around Tokyo and want to fuel up for a lot of footwork, then this might not be a bad thing to eat, but if you're snacking at the computer at work, forget it.