We wish that our two favorites were sold in more places, too.

Anpan, or bread filled with some kind of filling (usually red bean paste), is a staple of Japanese bakeries and convenience stores across the country. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t had anpan at some point in their lives–each bite of the soft bread is instantly comforting and serves well as a quick snack or even dessert.

Enter An Desu MATOBA, a shop in Tokyo’s Asakusa district nestled just behind the historic Sensoji temple complex. Our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa spotted it when the nearby restaurant that he wanted to visit for lunch was unexpectedly closed, and his curiosity got the better of him.

The sign out front promises a wealth of anpan types to try, as well as the fact that they source anko (bean paste) directly from the Matoba Seian bean paste company based in Chiba.

Seiji walked inside and was indeed greeted by more variations of anpan than he had ever seen before in his life!

The breads varied by size, shape, and color.

Could all of these really be anpan??

An donuts even made an appearance.

For those who need something else to pair with their anpan, the shop sells other types of bread as well.

According to a worker, this store regularly sells about 20 varieties of anpan, including limited-time seasonal flavors such as the baked sweet potato anpan pictured in the bottom right corner of the below chart. Up until recently, they had lemon anpan for the summer.

▼ Other featured flavors: chestnut anpan, coffee anpan, and kabocha anpan, to name just a few

In fact, there were so many unusual varieties that Seiji had never even heard of most of them.

He limited himself to buying five breads that piqued his interest the most and set about taste-testing them all. While they were all delicious, two of them emerged as the clear winners for him.

Koshi anpan (190 yen [US$1.33])

The first one he tried was koshi anpan, the popular classic bread filled with a generous portion of smooth red bean paste.

This one was definitely a step above run-of-the-mill koshi anpan.

Baked sweet potato anpan (200 yen)

Fall in Japan ushers in all manner of yakiimo (baked sweet potato) treats, so he had to try this limited-time version while he could.

The center was soft, golden, and delicious–basically a sweet potato in bread form.

Mugwort dumpling anpan (200 yen)

Known as kusa in Japanese, mugwort leaves are blended into the dough to give it its distinctively green appearance.

This anpan featured a healthy dollop of red bean paste with a gyuhi, or soft rice confectionary, lying in wait as well.

Now it’s time for Seiji’s top two picks.

Melon anpan (190 yen)

First up was melon anpan, which is a fusion of Japan’s beloved melon bread with a sweet paste made from green peas. It’s an unusual twist on a classic carb-filled sweet treat.

The filling was pleasantly moist with a natural sweetness from the peas. It actually made Seiji wonder why regular melon bread doesn’t automatically have fillings like this as well.

An cheese (230 yen)

Second up was a roll called an cheese, which Seiji likened to a cross between koshi anpan and cheesecake.

The main difference, of course, was the presence of a thick slab of cream cheese inside the bean paste.

Between the latter two breads, Seiji had a hard time deciding which one he liked best. He decided that he’d call it a draw and would happily eat either one again based on his mood.

Lastly, Seiji notes that An Desu MATOBA is in a spot in Asakusa that tourists aren’t likely to stumble upon and is frequented by true locals. He recommends it for anyone who’s a big fan of anpan. While you’re at it, maybe you can pair your bread with a regional Japanese curry from specialty store Curry Land in Asakusa as well!

Store information
Address: Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Asakusa 3-3-2
東京都台東区浅草 3-3-2
Open: 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Closed: Sunday

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