Monday, February 25, 2013

D-Plus Hokkaido Cream Pastry Roll

Recently, I tried protein powder as a standalone product for the first time. I'm sure that I've consumed food which has had the equivalent of such supplements before, but this was my first experience with scooping it out and stirring it into a beverage in such a way that I could really taste it. Incidentally, I didn't buy it, but was given it free for review. I don't normally eat protein powder, but that's not the point I'm getting to anyway.

The protein powder had a particular familiar taste which I could not put my finger on for quite some time. I looked at the ingredients, the first of which related to peas, which I rarely eat and have an irrational dislike of because my mother tried to force-feed them to me when I was a kid, and there was nothing there to clue me in on why it should taste like some sense memory lodged deep in the memory banks of my aging brain. After giving up on pinpointing it, the answer came unbidden into my mind. It tasted like a much more intense version of the aftertaste from cheap vitamin fortified cereal, likely a Cheerios knock-off that I had in my impoverished upbringing. 

In a strange way, this made sense since I imagine one way in which cereal, which is really pretty bad for you, is "fortified" with nutrients is with vitamin powders. This protein powder had a similar taste profile. The weird thing was that the familiarity of it actually made it seem "better". It wasn't that it tasted good, nor that I had any sort of fond memory of that cereal, but just the fact that it was familiar made me like it more. Nostalgia is a potent modifier of experience.

That is a phrase that comes to mind because this Hokkaido Cream pastry roll, purchased at Daiso Japan for a modest $1.50, is all about nostalgia for me. No one, save my husband, whined more about the "bready" relatively shelf stable pastries in Japan more than me. They were not sweet enough, had too little flavor and were always composed of relatively bland white bread. However, that presentation is something which I'll always associate with living there. This roll tasted like life in Tokyo.

That is not to say that it tasted "great", but it was actually better than expected. I sampled a D-Plus Anpan previously, and found it disappointing. This was somewhat better for two reasons. First of all, the bread was fluffier and softer than the anpan version. It was suprisingly fresh in terms of the texture. That could be the nature of this sweet or I could have gotten the anpan at the end of its shelf life and the cream bread at the beginning. It's hard to say for sure, but it was actually pretty decent as far as being soft.

The "cream" part was where it really hit home as a carby slice of Japan. I thought that I'd cut it open and find a small anemic pocket of cream in the middle surrounded by a huge amount of bread. That wasn't the way it worked. If you look at the picture above, you can see dots of yellow that look like tiny bits of butter. You can also see that the cream bread is layered is sections. The cream is distributed in marginal amounts between each segment. This may account for how moist and soft the bread is since even a smattering of fatty cream filling may keep the bread from drying out.

In terms of the taste, I honestly liked it. It is ever so slightly sweet and had the barest hint of custard taste. Coupled with the fairly good texture, this was a serviceable breakfast bread or snack (and at 270 calories, it was a reasonable portion). The truth is that I'd buy this again. However, I think that this is not something I'd recommend for my readers unless they have the same nostalgia for Japan that I do. Objectively speaking, this is no great shakes and you'd be better off buying a nice bun or roll from a supermarket bakery. This was good, but only for what it is and for those who have a sense memory they'd like to relive. I'm sure that's how these D-Plus pastries remain in stock at Japanese markets. They cater to the desire of people who want the "Japanese taste" while they're not in Japan. 


Lynn Stark said...

I just spotted this at a local Japanese grocery store, and I loved it. I only bought one roll, just to give it a try, I wasn't expecting much. I let my daughter and boyfriend try it also, and they loved it too, which meant less bread for me. Now I wish I bought more, because the store is a good drive away and I don't go there often.

None of us have any nostalgia for Japan, so I think some of your other readers may also enjoy this bread.

Orchid64 said...

Thanks, Lynn! I'm glad you liked it.

I'm rather concerned that it's lack of strong sweetness may put others off. American tastes are often more extreme than Japanese ones.


Thanks for commenting!

kfc said...

This is my favorite bread flavor.

then again I love all Hakkaido milk/cream products.

Kevosnow said...

I'm no bread connoisseur, haven't tried many sweet breads in my time; but this is the best tasting bread I've had, really can't get enough. I've visited Japan once and loved all the foods, so possibly I just also nag for the "Japanese flavor"... but I buy out my local Japanese market(Dallas, we only have one small store that is purely Japanese based) of this bread!

Orchid64 said...

Wow. I'm surprised Kevosnow. I had much better bread than this brand when I was in Tokyo. The Yamazaki Pan brand was definitely better, and the bread made in bakeries was even better yet.

Tastes do vary, however. I'm glad you like it!