Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Soft Bagel Ham & Cheese

That nice picture of the bagel with lots of gooey cheese around the edge is a big, fat lie.

Most of the time, I shy away from pre-prepared food. It's always disappointing and not very filling. Sandwiches in Japan are particularly underwhelming because they are almost always made with white bread and high fat, low protein fillings. Once every month or two, I'll feel too overwhelmed to go to the trouble of making something decent from the scraps around the apartment and give in to buying some marginally appetizing food in a plastic package. Of course, I feel guilty later for having done so because the packaging is always wasteful.

In the case of the "soft bagel" ham and cheese sandwiches, the packaging isn't too terribly bad as buying three bagels would net me a plastic bag anyway. Buying ham would add in a styrofoam tray and the cheese would add in another plastic bag. So, my guilt is mitigated a bit knowing the components would bring more waste than the end product in this particular case.

These bagels definitely fall under the "snack" category rather than "meal" because they are on the smallish side though they are a heartier snack than most. There are three bagels in a cardboard tray with a moisture absorbing pack in each bag. The moisture absorber must be good because the expiration date on my package was two weeks after the date on which I purchased it. The ham must be cured within an inch of its life to stay "fresh" for so long.

The 3-pack costs about 370 yen ($3.43 USD) so it's 123 yen ($1.14) per bagel. This makes it a cheaper snack than a box of Pocky or some more lavish candy bars. Each is a relatively modest 227 calories. The instructions tell you that you can microwave it for 50 seconds or toast it, but microwaving bread is always a bad idea, so I decided to toast it.

You only need a smattering of cheese, as long as it's smattered in the right place and can fool the consumer.

Though these are made by Nippon Ham, the quanitity of ham is very skimpy. You get one tiny, thin slice which doesn't even cover the entire small bagel. The cheese distribution is shameful. You get a small sprinkling concentrated around the bagel's center to fool you into thinking it's a reasonably cheesy sandwich when you look at the bagels through the clear plastic part of the packaging.

The filling is utterly anemic and I couldn't taste the ham much at all. It was more like a condiment than a component of the sandwich (and a weak one at that). However, the bagel is really very good. When toasted, it's shiny and a tad crispy on the outside and nicely chewy inside. Considering that buying an average plain bagel in Japan costs almost the same as one of these sandwiches, the value isn't bad as long as you're mainly buying it for the bagel itself. I beefed mine up a bit with some more cheese, spread some mayonnaise and coarsely ground mustard on it and added a side of sliced tomatoes and soup for a small meal. The back of the package recommends you add in some avocado and a salad to make it a "California bagel."

I can see myself buying these again when I'm lazy or too tired to mess around. If I were working in an office and wanted to have something to snack on with more heft, I'd definitely consider buying a package of these  to dissuade me from buying sweets or chips.


'badmoodguy' is mike said...

I would say that it looks kinda sad...but then if I go to the vending machines down the hall the pickings aren't any better. There is nothing than I like more better than a nice ham and cheese sandwich with a brush of mustard and a little mayo.

Orchid64 said...

Heh, I agree they are very sad, but such is the state of "sandwiches" in Japan. I must say one of the things I still want from home which I absolutely cannot have here is a seriously great deli sandwich. I sometimes crave a generous bit of turkey on a good hard roll with muenster cheese with mayo and assorted veggies, but it can't be had at any price.