Saturday, 7 September 2013

Think I'm turning Dorayaki!

Dorayaki! No, I didn’t sneeze but thank you for the courtesy “bless you”. Chances are if you’re reading this however that you already know what Dorayaki is and you don’t think I attacked my keyboard. You may even have tried it, if not. Why not? Stop reading this and find some, make some or pray for some.

I’ll explain them to those unfortunate enough to not have yet experienced these Japanese delights. They are pretty simple to describe, two pancakes on top of each other sandwiching any filling you can imagine. The traditional filling is Red bean paste. Don’t recoil at the idea of pasted beans for dessert; believe me it sounds much worse than it tastes. They are essentially pancakes with something jammed in the middle, I have tried to make my own but it takes a better cook than I to make the fluffy pancakes needed. The centre ranges as far as your imagination can take you, for this review I’ll only be looking at the four you can buy from one fast food chain alone.

How could I ever have doubted these beauties?
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of travelling. As well as being a bad blogger and not posting as regularly as I’d set out to, it’s meant passing through Waterloo station quite a bit. With each passing I would visit the Wasabi restaurant that specialise in quick lunches for the hungry commuter. Basically they serve a mixture of hot food for dinner and bento boxes for lunch. Essentially a sushi bar on the go, they do have seating but it doesn’t seem to get used much in this branch amid the hustle and bustle. Within a short amount of time (two weeks) I have managed to sample their entire range. I’m now eyeing up the Mochi range for a follow up review, so keep your peepers peeled.

I’ll start logically with the first one I tried custard filled Dorayaki. This is clearly not very traditional but at the time it was what my curious but wary mind would try. From my first tentative bite however I was hooked. The pancake was light and fluffy with its own very subtle flavour of vanilla. It seemed to possess the power to melt in your mouth perfectly too. I’m not usually a fan of pancakes; often they are rather heavy on their own before you even begin to pile on the sickly sauces needed to flavour them. These were more like little light sponges, airy, round and very moreish.

The filling was something to behold too, a nice thick helping of custard (with a solid texture that held its shape), very creamy and very custardy tasting. It complemented the vanilla pancake well and the two create a great combination of sweetness that is unmatched by any other dessert I’ve tried. I believe I could consume many of these in one sitting without feeling sick, guilty or full. It’s sweet enough to end a meal but also not so sweet that I couldn’t justify having it as a midday snack on its own. Basically “ME LIKEY”!

My girlfriend's favorite
As you can imagine I needed to try the other flavours, however they needed to be kept special and I restrained myself from buying them all then and there. Thankfully I knew my travel plans would be bringing me back to another Wasabi soon and then through the station at a later date. With careful planning I knew I’d soon have tried them all (not like I was obsessed or anything). With little persuasion of the amazing delights Dorayaki offered me and my girlfriends were having a sit down meal at another Wasabi branch. We each ordered a different flavour, she had Green Tea and I had Red Bean paste. Together we would cover the two more traditional fillings on offer.

One slightly unsettling thought however I find is that all of the pancakes look and taste the same. Now I know Wasabi are a fast food chain and therefore these are made traditionally but I they feel so authentic that it troubles me to imagine them being a mass produced item. I can’t complain however as they taste just so good so thoughts of mass production are soon forgotten. The Green Tea filling was first to go. It had the same thick custard texture thick, creamy and just as smooth. The taste started out with an initial sugary burst that faded away into a pleasingly bitter taste of tea. This tea taste added another level as it took away the sweetness perfectly without overpowering it.

Texture isn't as off putting as you'd think
We were both a little wary of the red bean paste but as it was the original filling we persevered. The texture was a bit odd to say the least. It is essentially beans mashed up. I would describe it as drained and cleaned baked or kidney beans mashed and sweetened. Believe me these are far from unpleasant however, it has the same initial sugar burst which subtly fades away. Unfortunately it fades into a rather bland bean taste. For this variety it’s mostly texture that the filling has to offer.

The last flavour, cream cheese I picked up as I passed back through Waterloo at 7am on a Friday. The weather outside was that horrible dreary British drizzle that makes you question why you got up at all. I hoped the Dorayaki could lift my spirits; it did that and much more! The filling was light and creamy akin to whipped cream with pieces of beans inside that kept it interesting. It began with the same initial sweetness that fades before it becomes dull. In this case an awesome quality cream cheese. Instantly this became my favourite and I am only saddened by the knowledge that it could be a while before I try it again. I urge anyone reading this to try it before they die.

Look at possible perfection folks.
Overall I highly recommend trying Dorayaki. Not just Wasabi’s however, a simple google search should fill you with as much ideas and inspiration to want to go out and gobble them all up. If you do pass a Wasabi though get in there and try the cream cheese, you’ll thank me. 

Custard: 7.5 out of 11
Green tea: 8 out of 11
Red bean paste: 7 out of 11
Cream cheese 10 out of 11

These four variants are from Wasabi

Final Thoughts
I would but I have a train to catch (once I think of an excuse).

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