We investigate an intriguing sweets product at the popular international foods chain and discover the secret of its hidden flavor.

Kaldi Coffee Farm, often known as just Kaldi for short, is a Japanese chain of grocery stores specializing in coffee and international foods coupled with its own inventive line of products. Truly, its very own spread for turning sliced bread into melon bread is a gift to humanity.

Our Japanese-language reporter Mariko Ohanabatake loves browsing the aisles at Kaldi to see the latest in exciting and occasionally weird food offerings. On her most recent visit, she spotted something that would probably fit more into that latter category in the form of butter pudding. Now, pudding, or “purin” as it’s known in Japanese, is a longtime favorite sweet in Japan. Cafes selling retro-style pudding have even made something of a comeback in recent years. So when she caught sight of this unconventional, butter-based offering in the sweets section near the register, she let her curiosity get the best of her for only 220 yen (US$1.50).

▼ The culprit that piqued her interest

Its packaging actually looked a bit retro apart from the English letters in caps that read “BUTTER PUDDING” on the front. According to the text on the side, the pudding was made using rich Hokkaido butter and had a slightly bitter, complementary caramel sauce topping. It was also supposed to taste even better after being chilled in the fridge.

Once home, Mariko got right to work and opened the box. The pudding, which was about the size of her palm, came in a white plastic cup with a thin film covering.

She peeled back the film and was greeted by a firm but slightly jiggly yellow snack. It certainly looked like pudding.

She decided to plop it onto a plate and was surprised by how flat it was, since regular Japanese pudding is a little bit taller and tapered at the top. She equated typical pudding with a mountain and this pudding with a plateau in her mind. The bottom was also a bit beige, like it had been made using light brown sugar (and seared butter, perhaps?). The top was indeed covered in a small pool of the caramel sauce.

Mariko took a bite. The texture seemed to be somewhere in the middle–she’s had pudding before that was both harder and softer than this one. It was sticky and on the sweet side, with a hint of saltiness, too. Come to think of it, there was a sour aftertaste not very reminiscent of butter, either. She thought it was good, but not really close to what she pictured as pudding.

She checked the ingredients list to understand where that sourness came from and was surprised to see cream cheese listed on the second line. Surprisingly, the pudding also didn’t contain any egg–which was probably why her brain hadn’t immediately registered the taste as “pudding.”

In fact, she thought that the product’s name would probably be more appropriate as “cheese pudding.”

It was certainly rich and wasn’t un-tasty, but for someone like Mariko who prefers their pudding to have the flavor of egg shining through, it was a bit lacking. What a strange product–to be pudding, yet have butter instead of egg and even then taste more like the cream cheese…

In any case, Mariko will continue to patrol Kaldi for more interesting-looking products. Even if she can’t find anything fun in the near future, there’s definitely something waiting for her at her local convenience store instead.

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[ Read in Japanese ]