New store at Tokyo Station goes bananas for curry bread…and doughnuts.

You can buy a lot of souvenirs in Tokyo, but for people across Japan, the one souvenir that tops them all on a visit to the metropolis is Tokyo Banana.

These banana-shaped cakes filled with banana custard have long been a staple on the souvenir scene, but since the pandemic put a dampener on everyone’s travel plans, the company has been exploring new-look variations featuring the likes of Pikachu, Eevee and Piplup from the Pokémon franchise.

Now, the company is continuing with its own evolution, by opening a brand new shop at Tokyo Station called Tokyo Bananas.

▼ The new store opened on 8 December.

As you might expect for the grand opening of a new branch of a beloved brand, there were queues outside Tokyo Bananas on opening day, and our reporter Mr Sato was amongst the crowds.

He, like many others, was here to try a new product exclusive to the store called “Legendary Karepan“. Karepan, or curry bread, is one of Mr Sato’s great loves, so he was incredibly excited to try it, especially when he saw this mouthwatering image on display.

As he inched closer to the register, Mr Sato feasted his eyes on the curry breads in the showcase, and beside them he could see there were doughnuts on offer as well.

Legendary Curry Bread, on the left, costs 356 yen (US$3.86) each, while the Cream Bean Paste Doughnut (right) is a little cheaper, at 324 yen.

Both items can be purchased individually or as boxed sets, making them easy to carry around and ideal for gift-giving.

Mr Sato decided to buy a six-piece set for 2,040 yen, which contained three curry breads and three doughnuts.

Taking a look at the seal before opening the box, Mr Sato noticed that the expiry date was the same as the date of purchase, so you’ll want to be aware of that before buying too many of them.

Taking one of each out of the box, it was clear that the curry bread was much darker than the doughnut, suggesting it would be much more flavoursome.

Heating is recommended for maximum flavour, so Mr Sato popped them both in a preheated toaster oven for about two to three minutes, and then left them for about two minutes to cool.

Upon taking them out, the exteriors had become noticeably crisper, and Mr Sato decided to start with the curry bread, slicing it in half to see what made it so legendary.

According to the company, both these new products contain “fiantine“, which is made by stretching crepe dough out thinly and baking it. By combining it with the batter, an incredibly crispy texture can be created, and biting into the karepan proved this to be true — it crunched under his teeth in an incredibly satisfying manner, contrasting beautifully with the curry and banana puree filling, which oozed out over his tongue.

The banana puree added a surprising flavour to the curry, giving it a sweet finish that made it seem more like a sweet rather than a savoury snack. It was fruity yet spicy at the same time, creating a moreish, addictive combination that certainly lives up to the legendary moniker.

Moving on to the cream doughnut, Mr Sato sliced this one in two as well to inspect its contents.

The inside was filled with red bean paste, and beneath it was a layer of gooey banana custard cream. The aroma of banana was strong in this one, and when he took a bite, he closed his eyes in bliss as the smooth custard cream tantalised his taste buds with fruity flavour.

▼ Mr Sato had never eaten banana with red bean before, but now he’s tried it, he’s hooked.

In Mr Sato’s mind, both these products are pretty legendary, and definitely worth trying next time you find yourself at Tokyo Station.

And if you’re looking for another sweet curry bread, this unusual dorayaki that recently won Japan’s Curry Bread Grand Prix is also worth keeping an eye out for!

Store information
Tokyo Bananas / 東京ばな奈s (トウキョーバナナ―ズ)
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1 (immediately after exiting the Yaesu central ticket gate of JR Tokyo Station)
東京都千代田区丸の内1丁目9-1 (JR東京駅八重洲中央改札口を出てすぐ
Open: 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. (hours may change around the New Year’s holiday period)

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