Kanji of the Day: 中(なか/ちゅう) naka/chū (inside, middle, midium)
Like everywhere else in the world, Chinese cuisine, or 中華料理 (chūka ryōri), is very popular in Japan: 中華 means Chinese and 料理 means cooking or cuisine.
Among all the delicious 中華料理, the most popular item is propbably the 中華まんじゅう(chūka manjū), or simply 中華まん(chūka man), the Chinese stuffed buns. They are especially popular during fall and winter season, and there is nothing like holing the warm and soft 中華まん in your hands when it’s super cold outside. I love the warm SoCal climate so much, but boy, do I miss those 中華まん holding moment in the cold winter!
Although there is nothing like a home made 中華まん from a good Chinese bakeries and restaurants, you can also find a pretty decent 中華まん at local convenience stores in Japan. They usually have a steamer for 中華まん near cashers, and you can ask them if you want one when you check out.
Like pasta, pizza, hamburger, and many other foreign dishes 中華まん has also been heavily localized to satisfy the Japanese consumers’ unique taste buds. I believe the original Chinese recipe calls for pork or red bean paste or taro for the stuffing, but Japanese people decided to add a few more variations, which may look strange to you, but are amazing!
Here is a ピザまん (piza man), or pizza bun, which has some delicious pizza sauce and melty cheese inside. I mean, who doesn’t like pizza, right?!
This is a カレーまん (kare man), or curry bun, with spicy curry sauce inside. The little picture of chicken indicates that it’s chicken curry.
The last one is the スライム肉まん (sulaimu nuku man), or the slime pork bun for all you Dragon Quest lovers! These little guys were sold only at Famima for a limited time last year, and were sold out like crazy! I wish I could try one :'(
If you are planning to go visit Japan during this fall or winter, stop by at any local convince stores and try one of their 中華まん! They’ll make a perfect lille snack for your adventure 🙂
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