Curry bread (karee-pan [kah-reeh pahn]) is the ambrosia of my Japan experience. I would have curry bread over doughnuts any day. This convenience-store food consists of Japanese curry wrapped in dough and breadcrumbs, which is then deep fried(1). The result is a snack that is easy to hold (if a bit greasy) and bursting with spicy curry flavor. You may be thinking of a jelly doughnut, curry version; however, the bread itself has better flavor and texture than an American doughnut, and of course has an entirely different kind of sweetness that complements the curry.
I love this bread so much that I would buy out Asia Pacific University student store’s entire supply in the mornings when they got a new batch. I had to ask a store manager to find out when they restock, so I could be sure to come in time before they sold out. Curry bread can be found in most convenience stores and some bakeries in Japan.
It pains me greatly that this staple Japanese treat doesn’t seem to exist back home in California. I have to go to Sacramento (hours away) just to get melon bread (sweet melon-flavored bread), let alone curry bread (I don’t know if Sacramento Asian markets carry it).
After my study abroad program was over, I asked my second-cousin who is living in Japan to bring me back curry bread when she visited the U.S. I assume she checked the box at the airport, and had to declare she was bringing them back as gifts rather than for resell. It must have looked funny to anyone who checked her bag. That supply didn’t last me very long.
Curry bread in pop culture:
Curry Bread Man is a superhero in the children’s picture book series Anpanman by Yanase Takashi (last-first name), which stars an anthropomorphic sweet-red-bean-paste filled bread.
In chapter 21 of the manga Black Butler by Toboso Yana (last-first name), demon butler Sebastian invents curry bread in old England during a curry contest. The food judge says it better than I can: “The deep fried crispy exterior and soft interior’s texture combined with that sticky curry creates several levels of heavenly taste!” “Ingenious and fragrant, it is all blended together as if it were the very meaning of ‘delicious’. It blossoms the moment it is sliced open!”
(1)Wikipedia contributors. “Curry bread.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 May. 2014. Web. 8 Dec. 2014.
Cover image: from Wikipedia commons, taken 4 November 2007 by katorisi