Monday, December 19, 2011

Muji Amashoku

When you think movie snacks, you're probably thinking popcorn, M & M's, chocolate-covered raisins, or some sort of candy that can be shoveled into your mouth in small bits such as to mislead you about the true amount you are consuming. You probably aren't thinking "Japanese baked goods", but this amashoku (sweet bun) was purchased for me to consume during a viewing of Mission Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol. 

I didn't plan to be so unconventional, but the theater we went to was fused with Muji (in what I'm sure was a painful transporter accident). If you don't want to look that up and don't know what it is, I'll tell you it is a worldwide seller of household goods, clothing, and other assorted crap that emphasizes minimalism. It's the "no brand" brand. The fact that it is considered "cool" always makes me smirk since I grew up poor and buying "generics" which were what no one wanted because of their plain black on white labels. If only they'd chosen a different color scheme (Muji's is black text on tan with deep red lines), they might have been painfully hip instead of fodder for people who knew the humiliation of shopping with food stamps.

Since Muji had a shop in the basement and first floor of the theater, we killed time before the main feature by perusing one of the shops. There is a minimum of 20 minutes of advertising and coming attractions and we were lied to about the starting time and subjected to 13 minutes of ads even though we waited until near the starting time. At any rate, since Japanese theaters allow you to bring in your own snacks (hurrah!), I was drawn to the compact packet of amashoku for a mere 126 yen. Each small bun is a little bigger in diameter than a 500 yen coin/American half dollar and a mere 27 calories. 

All amashoku is a little on the dry side, but not in a way which is especially unpleasant. It has a textural quality which crosses between bread, a cookie, and cake. It has the texture of the top of a muffin, the dryness of bread, and a bit of the delicate inner texture of cake. Really fresh amashoku that you buy in bakeries has a slightly crispy top. Pre-packaged types like this are pretty much soft all the way through, but that doesn't make them bad.

The flavor is of margarine, sugar and something that reminds me of anise at the end. It's a very distinctive flavor which I encounter with all sorts of amashoku, but I can't find anything in on-line recipes which would account for this taste. The basics are flour, butter, sugar, and egg. These were sweeter than some amashoku, but not too sweet and quite tasty. For a texture junky like me, they really hit the spot. 

Since Muji is worldwide, there's a chance that these can be bought in other countries at their shops. I was already a fan of amashoku, but they are on the "plain" side. If you're someone who likes carbs that aren't too oily or painfully sweet, I'd recommend giving them a try. I'll certainly have them again.


nina said...

There's a new Muji store opened in my town, I think I'll give this ama shoku a go :). Thanks for the review.

Japan-Australia said...

I love Muji and they have such good affordable products. The drinks and snacks are really good as well. By the way, how was the movie?

totoro said...

It is first time "Muji" is worldwide. I also like Muji's Amashoku. It is very convenient to fill the appetite between meals. Adding that it brings back to my childhood. When I was sick in bed, my mother bought me Amashoku. Because it is soft and good for each stomach. At the time's amashoku is not this type, normal size, bigger one.

totoro said...

I think it is similar to short bread in England. I was surprised to find short bread. The taste and feeling are very similar. However, maybe the oil is different. Short bread uses butter or shortening but chinsukou is uses lard or other animal's oil, I think.
Anyway, those of sweets are simple but tasty, I think too.

Orchid64 said...

I may be misunderstanding what short bread is, but I thought it was crumbly and dry. These aren't like short bread at all to my knowledge.

Chinsukou are much more like what I think of as British shortbread cookies, but sometimes I get confused about various foods.

Orchid64 said...

Japan-Australia: It was very good, actually. I'm not a huge action movie fan and we mainly chose the movie from limited options because it seemed to be the sort of thing which would benefit most from big screen viewing. The pacing was excellent and it was well-acted (though it didn't exactly require deep emoting).

It's a good way to pass the time enjoyably with some excitement and not too much emotional manipulation. The effects are very good without being so overblown that they were distracting.