July 01, 2016
EAT

Gigantic Melon Bun

行列のできる、ジャンボめろんぱん

It’s a must-try when you visit Japan.

Asakusa, is one of the famous and popular Tokyo downtown sightseeing spot. The place can get crowded with people wanting to enjoy their weekend, varying from horserace fans to foreign travellers. You can already spot a queue of people at this store, from the morning time when the sun is not completely up in the air. That is, Asakusa Kagetsudo, famous for its gigantic “Melon Bun”. Its sweet smell can drift around for as long as 20m away from the store, and it is highly understandable that you cannot resist to stop your feet for this. Could be a continental breakfast, or could be an early snacking; people line up from the morning in order to get their hands to the buns. Towards the afternoon, number of buns sold just gets higher and higher, and by the end of the day there will be about 3000 buns sold at the store. This is just at the flagship store. If you include the number of buns sold at the other branches, it can be roughly about 6000 buns sold all together.

The store has already had its popularity from the local people to people outside Tokyo. Within these few years there are more people coming from overseas, and is becoming one of the must-go places for foreign travellers. The hype has started as a famous TV presenter from Thailand (just like Guy Fieri from Food Network, if you know) introducing this store on his show. With this exposure of the store to media, and also the foreign visitors sharing through their SNS such as Facebook to Instagrams, the store has gained vast popularity from all over the world. There are even people coming straight from Narita airport to the store to get hold of buns, and some of them even get about 20~30 buns as suvenir to their friends and families to share with.

Exterior of Melon bun is crispy like biscuit, and still the interior is fluffy as cotton candy. This is because its dough is fermented carefully at low temperature for longer time, and when baked it creates the crispy and fluffy contrasting texture. The buns are baked at the store, of course, and you can taste the freshly baked buns time to time. This is another reason people quere up for to experience the freshly baked buns, as it is probably hard to experience at any other boulangeries.

「日本に来たら食べないと」が合言葉

東京下町の名所中の名所、浅草。週末のひとときを楽しむ競馬ファンのおじさまたちにまみれて、外国人観光客も朝から活動的だ。まだ陽が高く上がりきっていない午前中にも関わらず、にわかに人だかりのできている店を発見。元祖ジャンボめろんぱんが名物の、浅草花月堂である。
店まで20mも切ればただよってくる甘〜い香り。思わず足を止めてしまうのもムリはない。朝から手を伸ばす人たちにとってはモーニングなのか、早めのおやつなのか……。午後になると売れ行きはさらに上がり、本店だけで1日3,000個、他店舗も合わせると6,000個になるそうだ。
もともと日本人にも人気があったこちらの店。特にここ数年は、外国人観光客が後を経たない。SNSによる拡散はもちろん、最初の火付け役となったのはタイで人気のグルメリポーターだった(日本でいう石ちゃん的存在)。彼の影響によって「日本に来たらココのめろんぱんを食べないと!」と成田から直行する人が続出。なかには「持って帰りたい」と20〜30個買う人もいるらしい。
低温でじっくりじっくり発酵させた生地が、外はカリッカリ、中は綿菓子のようにふんわりとした食感を生み出す。さらに海外では“パンをアツアツのまま食べる”というスタイル自体珍しいため、焼きたてを食せるのも魅力だ。まさに、この土地、この店でしか体験できない味わい。

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Not just about the Melon buns

There is one more thing that is unique about this store. It is impossible to miss out the all piled up Melon bun food samples that goes all around the store once you enter. Some people pretend to bite it, hide their face with, and put it on their heads and as you can imagine this is a good photo taking spot for all the visitors. Japan is also famous for making its very realistic looking plastic food samples, but there is no place like this store that you can actually play with them? Not just the Melon buns, they also have the food samples of glass beer to ice cream on the cone, so this should be a point where you can take an Instagram-moment-of-your-life photos.

What repeaters of this store also love about is its “it boy” (more like “it man”) of this store. It’s been charmed by foreign travellers when he hums “Sawadee ka” and “An Nyeong Ha Se Yo” to his customers while keeping the queue nice and easy. His loose t-shirt has the store logo printed, and it is the attire when he stands in front of the store and jokes about to its visitors. He keeps entertaining his customers so they are not bored with their waiting time. There are even people coming to take a photo with him. They tell him “I’ve come here last year too!” and show him the previous photos they took with him. Then take another one to update their photo albums.
There are constantly Sri Lankan and Filipino shop clerks who can help you with English. If you need any help, then you know who to ask for. That is another charming point about this store how foreign-visitors-friendly they are.

楽しめるのは、めろんぱんだけじゃない

そしてもう1つの人気の秘密は、店中に散りばめられたエンターテインメント性だろう。立ち寄ってまず目に入る、積み上げられためろんぱん……ではなくそのサンプル。これが海外の人たちに大ウケ! かじるマネをしたり、顔を隠したり、頭に乗っけたり。写真を撮りまくり、観光客たちはさんざん遊んでいく。日本の食品サンプルが外国人に絶賛されているのは有名だが、こんなに身近に触れる場所はそうそうないのかも? めろんぱんの他にビールやソフトクリームのサンプルもあり、SNSで注目を浴びるネタとしてはもってこいだ。
さらに海外リピーターたちが愛してやまないのが、“看板娘”ならぬ“看板おじさん”。列の整理を行ないながら「サワディーカ〜」「アニョハセヨ〜」と各国の挨拶を口ずさむ姿が人気を博している。店のロゴが入ったダボシャツを粋に着こなし、列に並ぶ人たちへ冗談を飛ばす。これだけ楽しませてもらえるなら、待ち時間だって苦じゃない。彼と一緒に写真を撮ることが目的で、わざわざ来店する観光客も。「去年も来たのよ〜!」と以前撮った写真を見せ、新たに記念撮影していくそうだ。
また、通訳も兼ねたスリランカ人とフィリピン人の若者も店頭に立っているため、何か困ったときは遠慮なく聞ける。至るところにさりげない気配りがあるのが、この店の一番の魅力かもしれない。

A place where you can experience Otenashi

Asakusa Kagetsudo is a historical Japanese confectionary shop, founded in 1945 at Hachijojima. The store has a good atmosphere and a service mindset at its finest, that you can tell that they really want the visitors to enjoy Japan and also know about Japan. On their second floor is a Japanese cafe, which has a nice traditional Japanese vibe going on, and it will make you think as if you’ve been time slipped away to good old Showa era of Japan. You may sit at its Zashiki seating space and sip some green tee; could be a good experience as well if you are in Japan. If you go to the flagship store, there will be low height Tatami chairs, so even with your rented kimono costumes, you will have no struggles to sit down.

Apparently Melon bun is born in Japan. So, it is much meaningful and recommended to enjoy the Melon buns at its place of origin, and at its traditional Zashiki seating. Of course to enjoy the taste of Melon buns, but also don’t forget to enjoy the whole playful atmosphere of the store as well.

Please note: You cannot take any alcohol with you within the premises of Senso Ji, but at this store you can drink beer!

おもてなしも充実の、くつろぎ処

浅草花月堂、実は昭和20年に八丈島で創業したという歴史ある和菓子屋さんだ。「日本の良さを伝えたい」「日本を楽しんでほしい」というサービス精神が、店全体から伝わってくる。特に2階に併設された和風カフェは和テイストで統一され、古き良き昭和の日本にタイムスリップしたような空間。お座敷で正座しながらお茶するというのも、外国人にとってはなかなかの貴重な体験だろう。ちなみに本店では畳張りの低めの椅子が使用されているので、レンタル着物で着飾ってきても十分くつろげるからご安心を。
メロンパンは、意外かもしれないが日本が発祥の地である。だからこそ元祖、だからこそお座敷で食べることに意味がある。めろんぱんに舌鼓を打つのはもちろんだが、ぜひ遊び心を持って店全体を堪能してもらいたい。
P.S.浅草寺境内でのアルコール販売は中止されていますが、ここではビールが飲めますよ!!

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SHOP INFO

Asakusa Kagetsudo
ADDRESS: Asakusa, 2-7-13, Taito-ku, TOKYO, Japan
TEL: 03-3847-5251
OPENING HOURS: 9:00~17:00 *Will close any time if the buns go sold out
SHOP CLOSE: Open daily

浅草 花月堂
住所:東京都台東区浅草2-7-13
TEL:03-3847-5251
営業時間:9:00〜17:00
※ジャンボめろんぱん完売次第閉店
定休日:なし

writer / EMI.N

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