Japan has a healthy habit of adopting food from other cultures and making it fit for a Japanese palate. We see it with their sweet-brand curry, rice filled omelets, and corn and mayo topped pizzas. Think too of Japan’s many adorably decorated coffees and character-shaped steamed buns.

Four-rue is an authentic-style Chinese food stall that’s often found on the basement floor of Japan’s large department stores. In a move to appeal to Japan’s cute-conscious consumer base, they’ve created a series of animal-shaped steamed buns that far surpass the quality of those mass produced and sold in convenience stores. These cute little critters are handmade with loving care to capture the soft edges and utter adorableness of a stuffed toy. We sent one of our animal-loving RocketNews24 staffers to four-rue to purchase a set of these delectable creatures and give us her thoughts.

Four-rue has four animals for sale in their steamed bun collection. The first is a meat bun in the shape of a little piggy. Then, there’s a custard-filled baby chick and two types of bears, a panda and a brown bear, both containing sweet bean paste. Compared to the soft and doughy buns familiar to the Japanese, these authentic-style buns are much more firm, but the fillings are incredibly moist and delicious. It’s obvious that a lot of care was taken with the minced texture and tender juiciness of the buns’ contents.

Of course, flavor aside, what really got our attention were the shapes. The colors and proportions found in each of these buns is spot on for maximum cuteness. The ears and nose portions of the little piggy bun’s face were colored using yeast from dried grapes, and the eyes are actually sweet beans. The black spots on the panda were darkened using charred bamboo. The brown coloring of the brown bear was achieved thanks to the addition of soybean flour, and the eyes and nose of the bear and bird were all made with tiny, carefully placed black sesame seeds. The results are almost too cute to eat, but at the same time too delicious to let sit!

With three out of four animals having such a sweet flavor, these steamed buns make a great accompaniment to any dish served at four-rue, whether as a dessert or a side-dish. We highly recommend that any readers staying in Japan keep an eye out for these little guys the next time you’re out shopping and do try a bite if your conscious allows.

Reference: four-rue
Pictures: RocketNews24

▼ Our adorable meat buns, only 210 yen (US$2.11) each.


▼ This little piggy goes first!


▼ See the ears on top!


▼ And here’s a close-up on that adorable snout!


▼ How appropriate that the piggy contains minced pork…


▼ Second comes the baby chick, still sitting in its egg.


▼ Again, it feels appropriate that the chick contains egg-based custard.


▼ Next up is the panda bun!


▼The inside is just as black as the outside spots thanks to the addition of sesame seeds. Thankfully, the panda bun does not contain real pandas.


▼ And last we have the bear from the forest.


▼More special than the sweet bean center is the powdered soy bean in the dough.


[ Read in Japanese ]