Chuka-man Mania! 10 Top Steamed Buns Available at Japanese Convenience Stores
When you go to a convenience store, you will most likely find piping hot chuka-man (Chinese steamed buns) in a glass case beside the cash register. There are actually many unique Chinese steamed buns in Japan with original fillings that are only available here. With that, here are 10 recommended chuka-man variants that were chosen from a wide array of steamed buns in Japan!
- What is Chuka-man?
- 1. Pizza-man (7-Eleven)
- 2. Uji Matcha-man (Lawson)
- 3. Yaki Baozi – Bolognese (FamilyMart)
- 4. Hokkaido Azuki no Goma An-man (Lawson)
- 5. Yangnyeom Chicken-man (FamilyMart)
- 6. Curry Nikuman (7-Eleven)
- 7. Taco Meat-man (7-Eleven)
- 8. Butter Chicken Curry-man (FamilyMart)
- 9. Premium Cheese Niku-man (FamilyMart)
- 10. Hello Kitty-man (Lawson)
What is Chuka-man?
Chuka-man is a fluffy, soft steamed bun with a filling made from vegetables, meat, or other ingredients. It is steamed inside a glass case next to the cash register in convenience stores, so you can buy it while it’s hot. All you need to do is ask the cashier for the kind of chuka-man you want. The cashier will put your chuka-man of choice in a wrapper or bag and then hand it to you.
For this article, I actually tried some of the slightly strange chuka-man variants unique to Japan that are sold at 7-Eleven, Lawson, and FamilyMart.
1. Pizza-man (7-Eleven)
With olive oil kneaded in its yellowish dough, the Pizza-man has a bun that is fluffy and has a melt-in-the-mouth feeling! I broke the steamed bun into two and saw the melted cheese oozing from inside and tomato sauce filling the bun. When I took a bite, it really tasted like pizza, what with the superb balance of the faint sweetness in the dough, acidity of the tomatoes, and the thick cheese! It’s the kind of taste that is easy to swallow even for those eating chuka-man for the first time.
[Price] 128 JPY (incl. tax)
2. Uji Matcha-man (Lawson)
Incorporating Uji matcha (powdered green tea) from Kyoto’s veteran shop Tsujiri Ichi Honten in the matcha-an (red bean paste flavored with matcha) and dough, Uji Matcha-man is the kind of chuka-man that will let you enjoy the flavors and bitterness of matcha. It has fresh cream made with high-quality fresh milk from Hokkaido, so the rich matcha cream becomes even more robust in taste! Its satisfying bitterness and faint aroma also make it perfect for a post-meal dessert.
[Price] 140 JPY (incl. tax)
3. Yaki Baozi – Bolognese (FamilyMart)
The Yaki Baozi – Bolognese is characterized by its dough that looks like a hamburger bun. Its dough is baked (“yaki” in Japanese) after steaming to give it a chewy and springy texture. Inside is a filling of ground beef and pork that have been sautéed in wine to bring out the sweetness and aroma of the meats. It is quite a loaded bun as the feeling of the meat definitely stays with you after you are done eating. The sauce has that distinct acidity of tomatoes and the delicious aroma of spices will whet your appetite. You can definitely have it for lunch, or breakfast even!
[Price] 150 JPY (incl. tax)
4. Hokkaido Azuki no Goma An-man (Lawson)
The an-man (steamed bun with bean paste filling) with red bean paste is a common kind of chuka-man in Japan. The Hokkaido Azuki no Goma An-man is an-man with sesame seeds added to the mix, combining the savory flavor of sesame and the intense sweetness of the red bean paste. The dough that was kneaded with black sesame seeds and the black filling truly pack a punch! This is the kind of impressive chuka-man that you will want to post to your social media accounts.
[Price] 120 JPY (incl. tax)
5. Yangnyeom Chicken-man (FamilyMart)
Yangnyeom Chicken is a Korean dish that is made by frying chicken in oil and then tossing it in sticky, sweet and spicy sauce. Yangnyeom Chicken-man is the chuka-man variant that has Yangnyeom Chicken as filling. The large chunks of chicken that are seasoned with soy sauce and garlic are generously covered in a sweet and spicy Yangnyeom sauce with hints of gochujang (a seasoning paste that is used in Korean dishes).
[Price] 180 JPY (incl. tax)
6. Curry Nikuman (7-Eleven)
Curry Nikuman is curry-flavored chuka-man with filling made from pork, bamboo shoots, onions, and other ingredients. The bamboo shoots are sliced in big pieces to retain their crispy texture. This steamed bun has the authentic taste of spices, so it can get considerably spicy. Such spiciness matches the mild sweetness of the dough to create a delicious flavor that is unique to chuka-man. If you love curry, then you have to try this bun!
[Price] 130 JPY (incl. tax)
7. Taco Meat-man (7-Eleven)
If you tear the bun, the spicy aroma of the filling will escape the moment you break it open! Inside is a filling made with jalapeno and other chili peppers, various spices, tomatoes with just the right amount of acidity, and large chunks of pork. I tried it and I was surprised that it was even spicier than I thought! The hot and spicy taste is so delicious that you will probably get hooked.
[Price] 130 JPY (incl. tax)
8. Butter Chicken Curry-man (FamilyMart)
This is the chuka-man that reproduces butter chicken, a kind of Indian curry. The dough with butter kneaded into it is soft and fills the mouth with a faint sweet taste. The bun is packed with curry that is overflowing with the delicious flavors of spices and chicken. It has a mild taste thanks to the addition of fresh cream, so there is almost no spicy taste at all. This bun offers its own delicious experience totally different from the Indian curry that is eaten with naan.
[Price] 130 JPY (incl. tax)
9. Premium Cheese Niku-man (FamilyMart)
The first thing that surprised me when I tore the bread was how springy the dough was despite its thickness! The pork that is cut into large pieces is quite filling, while the onions from Awaji, which is famous for its production of onions, are sweet and juicy. Four cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar, Gouda, and Parmigiano Reggiano) are added to the filling to bring out the delicious flavors of the ingredients. This steamed bun uses high quality ingredients, so it is a little more expensive than the ordinary nikuman variants. However, you get a more loaded bun that is very filling, so you will surely be very satisfied.
[Price] 220 JPY (incl. tax)
10. Hello Kitty-man (Lawson)
The last steamed bun on the list is one that is shaped like Hello Kitty that is also popular overseas! It would be almost be a waste to eat this Hello Kitty-shaped chuka-man, don’t you think so? Its filling is different from the usual chuka-man, though, as it has apples and custard inside. Why apples and custard? It’s because apple pie is Hello Kitty’s favorite food! The Hello Kitty-man looks really cute and tastes delicious, too (if you can make yourself take a bite!).
[Price] 200 JPY (incl. tax)
If there is a chuka-man on the list that you want to try, then head on over to a convenience store! There are many other chuka-man types available, so try to eat plenty of delicious Chinese steamed buns when you are in Japan.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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