Local bread specialist pushes the boat out with a surprising addition to their store.

Japan might be famous for rice, but these days, bread is just as popular, with specialty bread stores drawing huge crowds and different regions creating their own exclusive varieties to wow locals and visitors.

▼ Over in Shizuoka Prefecture, you’ll find a famous bread called “Noppo“, which has been “loved by everyone” since 1978.

Known locally as “Noppo Pan” (literally “Noppo Bread”), what makes this specialty so unusual is its length, as each piece is roughly 34 centimetres (1-foot) long.

Created and sold by a company called Banderol, these soft, long breads are known for having a cream filling, a glossy shine, an airy texture, and a sweet, buttery flavour. Now, though, the breads are venturing into new territory with a brand new addition to the range, and our reporter Takuya Inaba headed over to the direct sales office to check it out.

There, in amongst the regular cream-filled Noppo Pan, was the…

▼ …Tartar Noriben Noppo!

As a Shizuoka-born resident who’s grown up eating Noppo Pan from a young age, this new product took Takuya totally by surprise, and it was so unexpected his mind couldn’t even imagine what it would look or taste like.

▼ So he bought one for 550 yen (US$3.53) and took it home for a taste test.

Noriben“, short for “Nori Bento“, is a super popular style of bento that contains okaka gohan (rice with bonito flake seasoning), tartar sauce, fried white fish, fried chikuwa (Japanese fishcake), rolled omelette, and nori seaweed.

As Noppo is known for its cream filling, Takuya initially thought this new variety might be filled with a noriben-flavoured cream, but when he took it out of the package, he found…

▼ …the bread was stuffed with a whole noriben!

This was a crazy-looking Noppo Pan, but it was still made with attention to detail, as the ingredients were all carefully placed to ensure every bite of the bread delivered delicious mouthfuls of flavour.

▼ Pink pickles help to refresh the palate in between.

One of the most impressive components was the seaweed, which, instead of lying between rice and toppings, lay between the bread and toppings instead.

Splitting the long piece into smaller portions for easier eating, Takuya gave a nod of approval as he noted that all the familiar noriben ingredients, aside from the rice which had been replaced by bread, were present and accounted for.

The Noriben Noppo tasted fantastic, and the fried white fish in particular was a wonderful partner for the light and chewy bread, reminding Takuya of a McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish burger.

However, when he got to the more Japanese ingredients of seaweed and kinpira gobo (braised burdock root), Takuya found himself craving rice.

The Noriben Noppo tasted great on its own, but Takuya reckons he would’ve been in heaven if he’d had an onigiri rice ball to eat on the side with it. That was the gluttonous, carb-loving side of him talking, though, because by the end of it all, he was so full he never would’ve been able to finish the rice ball anyway.

While Noppo Pan has an online site where you can buy a range of cream-filled breads, the Noriben Noppo can only be purchased at the direct sales office, and it’s proving to be so popular that they often sell out by evening. So if you’d like to get a taste of it during a trip to Shizuoka, you’ll want to add it to your list of must-visit places to eat in the area, and don’t forget to pop by Egg Specialty Store Tamagoya as well, where you can devour a massive 6-kilo (13.2-pound) matcha parfait!

Store Information

Banderol Factory Direct Sales Office / バンデロール工場直売所
Address: Shizuoka-ken, Numazu-shi, Nishijimacho 20-2
Hours: 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays

Photos © SoraNews24
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