The best of konbini bread: Melon/meron pan

This week I had originally planned to write about anpan [あんパン], possibly THE most famous type of bread or pan [パン] you can buy at konbini [コンビニ], but as fate (or my stomach), would have it, I have developed a slight obsession with melon/meron pan [メロンパン] and decided to focus on it instead. There was also the fact that I discovered a new type at Family Mart that I just HAD to try.

Next week, I promise you though, I will write about anpan!

Now before I state my findings and indeed, my preference, let me first give you a brief outline of what melon/meron pan actually is.

First and foremost it’s a type of kashipan [菓子パン] or sweet bread and is considered to be nearly on par with anpan. It’s made from dough, which is then covered in a thin layer of crispy cookie dough that is wonderfully crumbly and sugary. The name, melon/meron pan is kind of misleading because it has absolutely nothing to do with flavour. To be honest, it was this confusion was the reason I didn’t actually try one for years. Yes, years. I detest melon and anything melon flavoured or even scented, so as much as I wanted to try one, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Of course, I found out later that melon/meron pan is named because of its resemblance to the skin of a melon.

Melon-pan - chocochip

Recently, some bakeries have indeed started adding melon flavouring, but thank God konbini have stayed true to the original recipe. You can, however, find some versions with custard or cream filling and even ones dotted with chocolate chips, but these are generally brands like Yamazaki or Pasco, not the konbini brand ones.

I first started eating melon/meron pan as a dinner substitute when I was pressed for time teaching at eikaiwa [英会話] and didn’t have any breaks. The closest konbini was a Family Mart and their melon/meron pan was perfect, because it was huge (good for when I was hungry), crunchy and crispy like it should be, and had clearly visible clumps of sugar sprinkled on top for that essential hit when teaching kids. I saw it more as a snack and at the time, I didn’t think the Family Mart version was something I would like to eat for breakfast.

Melon-pan - sugarchunks

Instead, I headed to my old favourite, 7-Eleven, and gave their melon/meron pan a go. I found that it was soft, light and buttery, similar to a sweet croissant and for people who don’t want too much sugar for breakfast, possibly a better option. Unfortunately, it’s a little too greasy for my taste. Family Mart’s doesn’t leave any grease whatsoever and is more crumbly. If you’re looking for a breakfast option, rather than a snack or light meal, go for the 7-Eleven one.

I’ve since started eating the Family Mart one for breakfast alternating between it and anpan. I decided some mornings I just want a sugar fix and with black coffee from 7-Eleven, it makes my day. Yep, okay, so I need to get a life, but what can I say? Simple things make me happy.

A few months back I saw that the Family Mart butter version was advertising the fact that they used Normandy butter. That didn’t ring any bells for me and I didn’t bother pursuing what about that fact that made it important…

Melon-pan - new package

That was until the other day when I noticed a new advertisement on the pack: European fermented butter.

Everyone knows that the Japanese love their fermented foods (think natto) and the health benefits that go with them, so like every curious nerd, I decided to investigate. It seems that Normandy is the dairy capital of France, hence the importance of the butter from there. It also has a slightly tart taste due to the fermentation process that is used in its production. I’m not entirely sure that the two melon/meron pan I’ve eaten from there aren’t the same product, just with different marketing, but I have noticed they’ve become more popular. Some mornings I have to walk to another Family Mart just to try and find one on the shelves.

Whatever the case, this time Family Mart is the clear winner. Yes, I’m very sorry Mr. 7-Eleven, but I’ve found a new love.

But don’t just take my word for it, go and try one and let me know whether you agree.

Happy eating! 🙂

Jade Brischke

Jade first visited Hiroshima with a group of her students from Australia and after falling in love with the city, vowed that one day she would return to live and work. It seems dreams really do come true! When she's not writing she's out and about with her camera, walking and exploring the streets or some may say, wandering aimlessly. She, however, doesn't believe any wandering is aimless. Jade blogs regularly at jackcrispy.com.

8 thoughts on “The best of konbini bread: Melon/meron pan

  • May 8, 2016 at 10:39 am
    Permalink

    Nice work, Jade. Quick question: When you have your morning melon pan do you drink your coffee black or with milk? Straight coffee accents the melon pan taste better. Milky coffee gets in the way. Which brings us to the 7-11 coffee dilemma. For a pretty good cup of coffee at one hundred yen a cup, don’t you think the little tubs of cream on offer should contain more milk and less corn sweetener? Real milk should be on offer because it is after-all a decent cup of coffee for the price.

    Reply
  • May 9, 2016 at 6:34 am
    Permalink

    Thanks Brendan! I drink it black. I like bitter coffee and find that milk spoils that taste. I also have issues with milk allergy-wise too. I absolutely agree with you! I find you need black coffee to balance the sugary sweet taste of the melon pan. I think you’ll find many people agree with you regarding the real milk issue too. I know one person who until just the other day had never tasted konbini coffee purely because they prefer to have real milk. Hence, they have to pay a little extra.

    Reply
  • June 3, 2016 at 4:52 pm
    Permalink

    Greetings!

    Japanese “melon-pan” is indeed really good, and I share the addiction.
    I recently found out that ALL konbini-branded melon-pan I have tried in Hiroshima are made by the SAME bakery: YAMAZAKI-pan.
    Just check the back of the package and you’ll see they all have the made by 山崎, and I mean all the konbinis labeled melon-pan: 7eleven, FamilyMart, Lawson, Poplar, Daily Yamazaki(daa!).
    They may have slight recipe variations for each, though. Like the 7eleven one and the FamilyMart one you mention. Also some konbinis do have entirely different melon-pans under their label: with choco-chips, filled with custard or actual “melon” flavor. However even ALL of these are made by Yamazaki-pan, as I checked.

    But still, a superb “pan”.

    What do you think of fresh bakeries “melon-pan”? There are,of course, chain ones like Little-Mermaid, Ginza or Vie De France, Cantevole, etc; however, almost every neighborhood has a local bakery, and almost all bakeries have in-house made melon-pan.
    In general I find these fresh bakeries to be even better that the Yamazaki-pan ones.
    Some really tasty options out there.
    Although I am still trying to find out a bakery that specializes in melon-pan, like some in Tokyo where they have more than 10 varieties of “melon-pan”.
    Do you know of any??

    Reply
  • June 4, 2016 at 7:12 am
    Permalink

    Thanks for your comments Chikatilo! I didn’t realize that Yamazaki made them all… isn’t that interesting?! Kind of makes me wonder why they bother changing the recipe slightly. Anyway, I must admit I never check out details like that. I’m so busy and excited about eating something so delicious, I’m usually just stuffing my face! Ha ha.

    I like bakery melon pan too, but because I’m a cheapskate, I refuse to spend more than just over 100 yen. I figure that the konbini ones taste equally as good (if not better, in my opinion) that I think, why would I spend more money on something that I won’t enjoy as much?

    I don’t know of any bakeries here that only specialize in melon pan. Just off Hondori there is the melon pan ice cream place but they feature different flavors of ice cream to accompany the pan, not the other way around.

    Good luck and let me know if you find one!

    Reply
  • June 7, 2016 at 10:58 am
    Permalink

    Good news Jade, I found this one actually:

    http://tabelog.com/en/hiroshima/A3404/A340401/34000002/
    which comes from this one:
    http://kuremelon.com/

    Kure Melon-pan, I found in SOGO, and then at some AEON and Youme malls, where people make long lines to buy them.
    I tried them, and I must say wow. Truly a different experience. The chocolate one is just awesome. The above links show their main store in Hondori, and their official Homepage, where all their distribution locations can be found.
    They have the stuffing, and the white one has quite a lot of it, too much in my opinion, but very delicious stuffing that is, specially the chocolate one.
    But above all, the “melon*-pan” dough is really good. Would recommend you give them a try!

    However, like you say, konbini melon-pan does taste really good. Recently I can’t get enough of the FamilyMart カスタード・メロンパン . Like the name says it is filled with custard cream, which I was skeptic about, but when it was the only option available, I had to buy it.
    The custard is the right consistency to not disrupt the enjoyment of the dough, but the best is the biscuit cover.
    In this melon-pan, the biscuit cover truly feels and becomes a “biscuit”. It forms a biscuit layer around the bread and its taste is amazing.
    I truly recommend this one.

    Reply
    • June 9, 2016 at 7:25 am
      Permalink

      WOW! Thanks so much for all your trouble, Chikatilo with the links etc. Great work! You could be a melon pan ‘ambassador!’

      I have indeed tasted the one from Kure. I have a few friends who live there and also visit there a lot and they always bring me delicious things to try, including the melon pan. I know the place in SOGO to buy them too.

      I haven’t tasted the custard one at Family Mart as I’m not a huge fan of custard in general. I may, however, be tempted to try it after your description of it.

      Thanks again!

      Reply
  • June 9, 2016 at 12:32 pm
    Permalink

    “Melon-pan ambassador”! Now I know I’ve gone too far… although my waistline may already be telling I’m going too far with this “pan” thing

    Concerns aside, in Mexico, where I come from,
    there is a bread called “concha”, which to those who know “melon-pan” would look like a “melon-pan”. And it basically is, or perhaps the other way around, there are those who think Japanese “melon-pan” originated from “concha” breads from Mexico introduced by Americans to Japan.

    Anyways, if you ever have the opportunity, try some “conchas” in Mexico, some very delicious ones exist, too!

    Reply
  • June 10, 2016 at 7:16 am
    Permalink

    Harald, I hadn’t heard of concha breads and didn’t know what they looked like so I did a Google search. Wow, they do look similar don’t they? Do they taste fairly much the same? I will definitely try one if I get the chance!

    Reply

Leave a Reply