A summer delight from Japan’s iconic cream puff chain.

When it comes to sweets, there is no better symbol of indulgence than the cream puff. A generous dollop of creamy filling encased in a chewy, soft choux pastry shell, cream puffs have become popular in Japan thanks to pastry chain Beard Papa, and fans are in for a wonderful twist as Beard Papa now has a new line of Japanese-style cream puffs.

Presented by a special side shop set up exclusively for the Japanese range, “Higenosuke” (“Beard’s assistant“), the new cream puffs blend traditional Japanese ingredients with French choux pastry. Never one to miss out on tasty sweets, the king of sugary indulgence himself, Mr. Sato, was literally the first to appear and line up at the new store in Shinjuku, though this should come to no surprise considering how strong Mr. Sato’s waiting-in-line game is.

At the store, the first thing Mr. Sato noticed were visible differences in the logo. Instead of a beanie accented with a mini pom-pom (pictured at the top of the image below), the new mascot wore headgear reminiscent of what traditional Japanese craftsmen don, and the store swapped its bohemian font for a more stylized, sharp one (pictured at the bottom of the image below).

As Mr. Sato took his rightful spot as first in line, he mused about which cream puff to get. In total there were six new cream puffs making their debut, but before Mr. Sato could fall into an existential dread over having to choose between delicious pastries, a nearby sign caught his eye advertising all six cream puffs for 1,600 yen. (US$14.48)

▼ Sometimes the answer is just in plain sight. Cream puffs for lunch it is!

And so Mr. Sato arrived home with a sizable but sleek-looking box of six cream puffs. As an additional bonus, there was also a folding fan which the store offered to its first 50 customers of the day in celebration of its grand opening. Mr. Sato opened up the fan to admire its delicate pattern before putting it aside.

Now it was time for the moment of truth: unveiling the cream puffs. Mr. Sato’s hands shook in anticipation as he opened up the box’s cover and took out each cream puff, which were each placed in their own fancy, special pouch.

▼ Looking chic!

After Mr. Sato unpacked the cream puffs and put them into neat rows on a stylish plate, he sized them up. They were a little smaller than the standard cream puffs Beard Papa sold, but they held an entrancing charm and it was time to dig in.

▼ Mr. Sato made sure to bring out his fancy dish ware for this occasion.

With much glee, Mr. Sato bit into the first cream puff, the “Refined Japanese Sugar & Custard Puff,” which was Higenosuke’s signature item. The thick cream inside was velvety on the tongue, and Mr. Sato could see how its sweet but airy taste could be a major hit among lovers of pastries.

Next, Mr. Sato tried “Matcha Heaven,” which had a smattering of powdered matcha on top of its outer shell. With a light but satisfying matcha cream filling, Mr. Sato savored the smooth blend of bitterness and sugary goodness. This was definitely a baked goodie which used its matcha flavor to its max potential.

To complement the bitterness of the matcha, Mr. Sato reached for the “Deep Roasted Kinako Puff,” which was stuffed to the brim with kinako paste, or paste made from roasted soybean flour.  Kinako is a mainstay in traditional Japanese sweets, often paired with mochi, and Mr. Sato appreciated the strong, peanut-esque flavor profile of this cream puff.

For the fourth cream puff, bearing a sticky outer texture, Mr. Sato went for “Barley & Brown Sugar Fried Dough Puff.” Baked twice in a syrupy concoction of brown sugar, the pastry shell consisted of fried dough cake and had a satisfying, crispy texture. In Mr. Sato’s opinion, this was a cream puff which fully blended Japanese traditional ingredients into a French pastry invention.

Another cream puff, besides the “Barley & Brown Sugar Fried Dough Puff,” to use a non-traditional exterior was this more experimental one paying homage to Japanese daifuku. Graced with the poetic title of “Blanket of Snow Upon Daifuku,” the white glaze on top of the cream puff did remind Mr. Sato of a fresh bed of snow, and the pastry’s inner filling was made from rice flour. Given its complicated, interesting texture, Mr. Sato wasn’t sure if he could call this one a “cream puff,” but perhaps the boundaries of what defined cream puff-hood were meant to be broken.

And last but not least, the final cream puff Mr. Sato tasted was the “Full-Bodied Sake Puff.” Luxurious and rich, this cream puff features a novel and surprisingly delicious fusion of sake and cream cheese. A few bites in, Mr. Sato thought it could pair especially well with the more savory snacks one typically ate with booze.

All in all, every cream puff had its individual charm points and was a creative mix of French as well as Japanese pastry tradition. When Mr. Sato finished licking the last crumb from his fingers, a smile ran across his face as he knew he wouldn’t be able to resist buying more of these delicious cream puffs again, and perhaps next time he would eat them as dessert after a refreshing serving of oversized cold noodles.

Store Information

Higenosuke / 髭乃助
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Kabuki-cho 1-chome 30-1, Seibu Shinjuku PePe 2F
東京都新宿区歌舞伎町1丁目30-1 西武新宿ペペ2F
Open 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.

Photos © SoraNews24
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