You might think there’s no reason to fly to Fukuoka. After all, the Shinkansen line now stretches all the way to the biggest city on the island of Kyushu, and those spiffy new first-class long-haul bus seats are about ready to make their debut. Why bother taking to the skies when you’ve got two perfectly good terrestrial travel options?
Simple: so you can get a crepe from a vending machine at Fukuoka Airport.
Japan’s beverage vending machines outnumber its food-selling ones by a pretty wide margin. Still, you can find automated snack sellers. Ice cream vending machines are the most common, and every now and again you’ll stumble across a bread machine on a station platform. What we hadn’t seen until now, though, was a crepe vending machine.
It’s not that we were hurting for places to get our rolled sweets fix. After all, most youth-oriented shopping centers in Japan have a crepe stand, and you can buy them in convenience stores, too. Still, we can never bring ourselves to pass up a chance to eat unusual vending machine menu items, so we sauntered up to the machine to make our selection.
There’s actually a pretty extensive lineup. 250 yen (US $2.30) gets you your choice of chocolate, Mont Blanc, tiramisu, pudding, or orange/blueberry/rare cheese crepe. If you’re a high-roller, the premium line of 500-yen ($4.63) crepes is comprised of caramel milk, caramel chocolate, caramel lemon, caramel melon, and plain caramel versions.
Honestly, those prices are higher than we usually expect for vending machine chow. Still, the machine seems to be popular. It also sells caramels (in case the five kinds of caramel crepes weren’t enough to satisfy those flavor receptors), and we noticed that the normal type was sold out.
Still, our faith in the crepes’ quality wasn’t so powerful that it could override our cheapness, and we decided to go with a budget-priced pudding crepe, because as we explained before, everyone loves pudding. We dropped our coins into the slot, hit the button, and down dropped an oblong glass jar.
Inside was a crepe, just about the best thing you can hope to find in a bottle after “wish-granting genie.”
The crepe is also wrapped in plastic, to keep everything moist and spongy. Right away, we peeled off the wrapper and took a bite.
So how was it? Exactly like you’d expect a 250-yen crepe to taste. On the one hand, the vending machine crepe didn’t seem to benefit from any precision production process that made it better than what we could get at the convenience store. At the same time, it wasn’t any worse, either. Crepes are one of those things that’re almost always delicious, even when they’re not the top of their class, and this was no exception.
Add in the instant gratification that only a vending machine snack can give you, and it makes a pretty good dessert if you’re flying out of Fukuoka after sampling some of the city’s amazing main course dishes.
[ Read in Japanese ]