A taste of home for a Japanese expat turns into a delicious regional treat in one part of Japan.

As we’ve already established, anko, Japanese sweet red bean paste, is delicious. So it’s not really a question of if you should eat anko, but how.

Two of the most popular anko delivery systems are anpan and daifuku. Anpan is a bun of soft bread with anko inside, while daifuku is a mochi dumpling with an anko filling. But there’s one bakery in Japan that takes these two tried-and-true anko sweets and combines them into something new…something new that it’s been doing for 40 years, with daifuku anpan.

▼ 大福あんぱん = daifuku anpan

OK, that’s admittedly a little complicated, but the gist is that the daifuku anpan made by bakery Europain Kimuraya in the town of Sabae, Fukui Prefecture, is a sleeper hit in the Japanese sweets world, something that most people have never tried, but which has also proven popular enough with those in the know that it shows up on travel shows and is a big seller on online regional foodstuffs store Umaimon.com. And not only does Europain Kimuraya’s daifuku anpan have a great reputation, it’s got a heartwarming backstory too, one that involves friendship and familial love that stretches halfway around the world.

Europain Kimuraya opened back in 1927, and by the 1960s second-generation owner Kinichi Furuya was running the bakery. Furuya was always looking for new kinds of bread, and that search sometimes took him overseas, particularly to Europe. About 40 years ago, Furuya was planning a trip to Paris, where he had plans to visit a Japanese friend who was living in the French capital. This friend, as fate would have it, loved daifuku, but traditional Japanese desserts weren’t exactly easy to find in French confectionery shops in those days.

So prior to Furuya’s departure, his friend’s mother, who was living in Japan, asked Furuya if he wouldn’t mind delivering a made-in-Japan daifuku to her son. Furuya agreed, but didn’t want the daifuku to get squashed or dried out from exposure to air along the way, so he decided to put the daifuku inside some bread that he baked at Europain Kimuraya, then took with him to France.

And thus was born the daifuku anpan, an anko daifuku dumpling inside a brioche bun. The clever and delicious surprise brought so much joy to his friend that after Furuya returned to Japan Europain Kimuraya started offering it to its customers, and through word of mouth it became a local hit before attracting attention from the wider foodie community.

We just so happened to be in Fukui during our recent travels, and so we made a point of stopping by to try the daifuku anpan for ourselves. The bakery is located about a 10-minute walk from Sabae Station, and as soon as we were inside, we spotted a sign for them.

At 250-yen (US$1.70), they’re a little more expensive than an ordinary anpan bun or daifuku would be on their own, but 250 yen is probably less than you’d usually pay for both, so it felt like an acceptable price. And that price felt even more acceptable once we started eating. As soon as we removed the daifuku anpan from its wrapper, a sweet smell drifted up from the bun. Taking a bite, we were greeted by the enticing texture of gyuhi, extra-sticky mochi, which made for a fantastic combination with the lighter, fluffier brioche.

The best thing about the daifuku anpan is how it doesn’t slack off on either part of its hybrid concept. This is a seriously good piece of brioche, and also an authentic, high-quality daifuku. So while we’re not sure if Furuya settled in France permanently, and if he ever found a local source of daifuku if he did, we’re happy that he had a good friend and thoughtful mom who wanted to give him a taste of home, and one whose flavor the rest of us can still enjoy today.

Bakery information
Europain Kimuraya / ヨーロッパンキムラヤ
Address: Fukui-ken, Sabae-shi, Asahimachi 2-3-20
Open 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Closed Sundays, holidays

Related: Europain Kimuraya Daifuku Anpan on Umaimon.com
Photos ©SoraNews24
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