How can these cherry blossom blessings be so delicious yet cost barely more than a buck?
Just the other day we found out about one company’s plan to release matcha green tea pancake mix next month. That news has fans of Japanese-inspired snacks and sweets licking their lips in anticipation, but there’s no waiting required to try pancakes made with the other flavor Japan can’t get enough of: sakura.
Convenience store chain Lawson now has cherry blossom pancakes, and you’d better believe we were grabbing some after they went on sale February 23.
▼ Visiting the bread and pastry corner of a Japanese convenience store is like opening a treasure chest.
▼ Sakura pancakes!
Even if you can’t read the kanji for sakura (桜), the cherry blossoms emblazoned on the package will let you know what the special ingredient is.
Inside the wrapper, you’ll find four pancakes, compact but still larger than the silver dollar variety. Made with sakura extract, they have a pink color evocative of the flowers’ petals.
Since the palm-sized pancakes are meant to be eaten with your hands, pouring sticky maple syrup on them would be a bad idea. Actually, there’s no need to add any additional flavoring, because the four pancakes are arranged as two sandwiched pairs with some very tasting fillings.
Inside there’s a dab of whipped cream and a dollop of anko, or sweet red bean paste. This isn’t any ordinary anko, though, it’s sakura anko, infused with flecks of salt-preserved sakura leaves.
So how do they taste?
Awesome. Absolutely awesome.
The pancakes themselves are moist and fluffy, bending without cracking while being cut.
The sakura flavor is sweet with just a touch of saltiness, and those taste themes continue with the filling. The whipped cream isn’t cloyingly sweet, and the restrained amount used means the inside doesn’t feel at all oily or greasy. The sakura anko is where the most noticeable kick of sweetness comes in, and it also has an extremely pleasing and slightly chewy texture. While you’re enjoying it everything tapers off into a mildly salty, very refreshing aftertaste.
At just 135 yen (US$1.10), Lawson’s sakura pancakes are far more delicious than they really have any right to be. They’ll only be available for a limited time, and I’d honestly recommend eating as many as possible while supplies last.
▼ I’m still kicking myself for not buying more than one pack.
Follow Casey on Twitter as he fights to stop anko from overrunning the planet (by eating it before it has the chance to).