Good bakers copy, great bakers steal.

As a resident of Osaka, I’ll occasionally gripe that all the good stuff seems to happen in Tokyo. For example, where I live we don’t have any giant robots, 3D billboards, or huge golden poo statues, but one thing that we do have in Osaka that cannot be found in Tokyo is Sanmi.

Sanmi is so beloved that it’s even been getting tribute baked goods made of it with the help of major convenience store chain Lawson. But since Sanmi is pretty much only known in the Kansai area of Japan we should probably all get on the same page by reviewing what it is first.

Sanmi was created about 50 years ago by popular bakery Kobeya. It’s a type of Danish whose name literally means “three flavors” and alludes to the three additional parts: a custard-flavored cream filling, a layer of cake on top, and a drizzling of chocolate stripes.

Sanmi has an old-fashioned and simple charm that makes it easy to overlook in supermarket and conveniences store shelves everywhere in Osaka, the surrounding Kansai area, and various other locations. But it’s also a deceptively delicious snack that never disappoints.

People in the Kansai region just took it for granted and never really realized how exclusive it was. On the other hand, people in Tokyo never knew it even existed. It wasn’t until the popular and long-running Tokyo-based manga Kochikame mentioned it in 2015 that both sides realized the situation.

“Sanmi is in KochiKame! For some reason Sanmi is only known in Kansai!…It’s delicious though! If you don’t know Sanmi, you’re missing out on life!”

“A little while ago I wanted to try the Sanmi in Kochikame, but it seems it’s not sold in Kanto. Ooooh…”

No one really knows why Sanmi isn’t sold in Tokyo. Kobeya – which is based in Kobe as its name suggests – is a major producer of baked goods and sells various products all over Japan. My personal theory is that the chocolate stripes on brown bread resemble a tiger pattern and probably remind people of Kansai’s professional baseball team, the Hanshin Tigers. This team has a deep rivalry with Tokyo’s Yomiuri Giants, so in a sense selling Sanmi in Tokyo would be like selling red, sock-shaped cookies in New York.

It doesn’t seem to matter anyway because Sanmi is as strong as ever even with its limited sales range. In fact, they periodically release Yonmi versions which adds an additional flavor that’s often a seasonal jam like strawberry or blueberry, and in 2020 Kobeya had 31 March officially designated as Sanmi Day.

Also, earlier this year Kobeya teamed up with major convenience store chain Lawson to sell Sanmi-mitaina Melon Pan or “Melon Pan that’s like Sanmi.” For those unfamiliar, melon pan is a very common Japanese baked good made of a sweet bun topped with a layer of cookie. The name refers to it’s typically melon-like appearance.

▼ Melon pan

So, Sanmi-mitaina Melon Pan fuses best parts of these to monsters of bread to create something altogether new.

Instead of a Danish, is uses a fluffy bun-like base filled with the same Sanmi custard-flavored cream. The layer on top is not cake like Sanmi, and not even quite the crispy cookie of melon pan, but a woefully underused ingredient in Japanese snacks, cookie dough!

This also has chocolate stripes on top to round out the three flavors and creates a far more decadent taste than either of the pastries it’s based on.

However, Lawson and Kobeya weren’t about to stop there. A few weeks ago they released Sanmi-mitaina Melon Pan (Choco Ippai) or “Melon Pan that’s like Sanmi (Lots of Chocolate).”

This version has all the same components of the previous Sanmi-mitaina Melon Pan, but instead of the chocolate stripes, covers the entire top surface with chocolate.

An added benefit is that in the chilly winter temperatures, it’s easier to hold the firm chocolate that the moist cookie dough directly. The taste is also considerably more chocolatey, making it a good choice for chocoholics.

All three of these delicious breads are on sale now so be sure to check them out, just not all at the same time because they’re like 500 to 600 calories each. Also, these are all only sold in the Kansai area.

So, sorry Tokyo people, you’ll all just have to go and cry in your internationally famous neighborhoods, theme restaurants, hotels, and cafes, your high tech train stations; Olympics, golden toilets and escalators and your egg festivals and parasite museums.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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