This combination of traditional Japanese snack and French pastry has got to be one of the oddest we have seen.

For many Japanese people, few things can beat the uncomplicated taste of ochazuke. This comfort food can be prepared in its simplest form by pouring green tea over a bowl of rice and enjoyed just like that, or going all fancy and having delicious toppings shaped into a salamander.

But our Japanese-language writer P.K. Sanjun overheard his colleagues talking about a collaboration between cream puff chain Beard Papa and popular instant ochazuke manufacturer Nagatanien, injecting a bold twist to the comfort food Japanese people have enjoyed for centuries: ochazuke-flavored cream puffs.

▼ Stopping by a Beard Papa store,
he noticed the puffs resembled little Bowser shells.

Perhaps 17 May being Ochazuke Day had something to do with why the limited-edition pastries were only available for a single day. Rare as it was, P.K. was rather curious as to how the savoriness of ochazuke would translate into cream puffs.

▼ No long queues seen, which was great news for him.

▼ It seemed to be popular. A maximum of two puffs were allowed for each customer.

▼ Paying the cashier 250 yen (US$2.30), P.K. frowned quizzically at the puff he received.

The exterior of the pastry was lightly dusted with what appeared to be nori seaweed powder, along with a scattering of tiny rice cracker balls usually served with ochazuke.

▼ His eyes widened in surprise after a hefty bite.

The matcha green tea cream filling was quite sweet, but P.K. suddenly felt tiny explosions of saltiness in his mouth whenever his tongue found bits of seaweed-dusted pastry. Taking another bite, his taste buds were assaulted by contrasting flavors of sweet and savory, and he could not decide if the ochazuke cream puff was delicious or not. If he was forced to choose, he would say that it tasted odd more than anything else.

▼ Still, he was astonished that Beard Papa
was adventurous enough to try something like this.

Even though customers were snapping up the one-day-only cream puffs, P.K. came to the conclusion that the limited-edition cream puff ultimately did not quite suit his own tastes. To his dismay, his tongue and brain seemed incapable of appreciating the contrasting flavors Beard Papa was aiming for. Although based on the smiling crowds around him, he was one of the few who did not find it outright delicious.

Sighing wistfully and rounding a corner, hope bloomed in P.K. when he spotted a vending machine halfway down the street. Recalling that that particularly machine stocked all manner of drinks, one of which was a delicious cream puff beverage, he could not help but grin. There was going to be a happy ending to his day, after all.

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