A cult hit that’s yet to be discovered by international tourists.

Kyoto may be world-famous for its long tradition of formal kaiseki cuisine, but people in Japan know there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss when visiting the old capital — a bread called Carnet, from Sizuya bakery.

▼ Sizuya started selling Carnets around 51 years ago, and now they sell about 10,000 a day.

Sizuya (pronounced “Shizuya”) has around 20 branches around Kyoto and the bread they make is so popular it’s even sold at a number of local supermarkets. In fact, the bakery’s goods are so sought after there’s even a vending machine stocked full of them, for those who know where to find it, and when our reporter Haruka Takagi visited at 3:30 p.m. on a weekday, there were only around 10 Carnets left.

▼ The use-by date is same-day, so the machine is stocked fresh every morning.

With the Carnets almost sold out, everything Haruka had heard about the Carnet’s popularity appeared to be true. Feeling lucky to get there before they were all gone, Haruka checked the methods of payment and found that cash is not accepted, so you’ll have to make sure you have some sort of electronic payment handy, like a transport card or  PayPay.

Haruka tapped her transport card to the reader and followed the instructions, pressing the number for her selection and then pressing the big blue 購入” (“Purchase”) button.

▼ If you make a mistake with the numbers, press the red “訂正” (“correction”) button to edit your entry before tapping the purchase button.

Haruka watched as her selection was automatically pushed forward, dropping from the shelf and into the tray below.

▼ Ta daaaa! Kyoto’s famous Carnet!

One thing to note about this bread is that it should be stored at temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), so if you’re thinking about taking it back home or to your hotel, it’s best to bring a cooler bag with you.

▼ Luckily, Haruka had come prepared with a cooler bag so her little bread was still in prime condition when she arrived home.

The Carnets sold in the vending machine look identical to the ones sold at Sizuya bakeries, as they’re all packaged in individual bags like this, so you get to have the true version of the Carnet without having to wait in line at the bakery.

▼ Upon first impressions, the Carnet might look like a plain type of bread, but don’t be fooled by its humble exterior.

Peering inside reveals that between the round bread buns lies two slices of ham and slices of onion, which pack a flavourful punch when combined with the bread, which is delightfully thick and chewy, like a hamburger bun.

Taking a bite, Haruka immediately understood why this bread has become a cult hit amongst locals in Kyoto. Not only was the balance between textures and flavours just right, every bite had a moreish, homemade flavour that made both Haruka’s belly and heart feel full and satisfied.

The onions weren’t overpowering, and their crunchy texture added a light, salad-like feel to the mix. However, the highlight was the salty margarine, which had been generously slathered inside the buns, bringing everything together with a salty creaminess that made it taste absolutely delicious.

▼ Sizuya’s Carnet margarine is so iconic they even sell it in take-home tubs at the bakery.

So next time you’re in Kyoto, be sure to take a detour from the well-worn tourist path and grab a Carnet, either at one of Sizuya’s local branches or at their two vending machines, located at the platforms at Kyoto Municipal Subway Shijo Station and Kyoto Station, to get a real local taste of the area.

Related: Sizuya Branch Locations
Photos ©SoraNews24

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