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Japanese Snack Review: Bunmeido Castella

by Shigeki Abe May 05, 2016

Bunmedi Castella Japanese Snack Review

Castella is one of the most popular snacks in Japan. It was introduced to Japan around the 15 th century and can now be found at nearly every grocery store and gift store in Japan. Today, we take a look at a premium Castella made by the famous snack shop in southern Japan: Bunmeido 文明堂.

Bunmeido Japanese Castella

Bunmeido's famous Castella looks amazing!

Castella is a type of pound cake that was first brought to Japan by Portuguese traders and missionaries around the 15 th century. The origin of the snack comes from the Spanish bisocho or the Portuguese pao-de-le. The Japanese named the cake “Castella” because it was thought to have come from a region in Spain known as “Castile”. 

Castellas are usually eaten as an afternoon snack, served to guests alongside tea, or just eaten for dessert. Personally, I sometimes eat it for breakfast by dunking it into a glass of milk (like cookies and milk).

Japanese castella snacks.

Dunking my Castella in milk (just like milk & cookies)

Bunmeido 文明堂 was founded in 1900 by Yasugoro Nakagawa in the southern port city of Nagasaki. Historically, Nagasaki was the only place in Japan that allowed western goods (such as Castella) to come into the country. More importantly, sugar is not native to Japan so the only way to get it was at Nagasaki.

Bunmeido Japanese bakery store

The different types of snacks made by Bunmeido

Since then, Bunmeido has become one of the premier Japanese snack companies and makes some of the best Castella in Japan. They still hand-make all of their snacks! In this Japanese snack review, we take a look at their recent hit, the Castella Dorayaki Roll Cake.

Bunmeido Japanese snack packaging

Packaging:

The packaging is pretty good, but nothing special (like this Kobe Fugetsudo packaging). The snacks are all individually wrapped and packaged in a nicely designed box. The box design gives it an old-world classy feeling, and we especially like the water-color, brush stroke look. Our box came with a total of 10 Castellas, 5 of each type: original and matcha green tea.

bunmeido packaging

Beautifully designed pamphlet showing the Bunmeido mission statement

There was a small info pamphlet in the box which had the Bunmeido mission statement written on it. It said:

We do everything for your smile and happiness. From the materials we use, the production methods, the skilled craftsmen who hand-make all the snacks…it’s all to deliver the best product we can possibly make. From the beginning, we strove to make snacks that will warm and comfort your soul.

Bunmeido Castella

Individually packed Castella

Taste:

What’s really unique about this snack is that the Castella cakes are wrapped in a different Dorayaki layer. Dorayaki is another popular Japanese snack that is essentially like a pancake sandwich filled with Azuki sweet red bean paste.

quality Japanese snack ingredients

The quality ingredients that Bunmeido uses

The outer Dorayaki layer gives this snack a firmer initial bite, but a fluffier inside. The contrast in texture between these two cake layers really elevates this snack.

In terms of differences between the two flavors, the original flavor tastes like a more refined, less sweet pound cake. The matcha green tea one has a subtle matcha fragrance and flavor. It’s apparent that Bunmeido Castella uses very high quality matcha. Generally if a company uses lower quality matcha in their snacks, you would notice, as the flavor becomes too bitter and leaves a grassy aftertaste. But Bunmeido Castella doesn’t have any negative aftertaste; instead you’re greeted with a gentle, balanced matcha aroma.

How Bunmeido makes Castella

Castellas can have varying textures too, since each store has its own unique production method. Depending on who makes it, the Castella can have different firmness, airiness, moistness, and color. If it’s too soft or airy, the cake will be harder to hold and become mushier. If it’s too firm, the cake can be too dense or crumble.

castella baking

Castella fresh out of the oven

Bunmeido’s Castella definitely had one of the best textures of all the Castellas that I’ve tried. According to the company, each Castella is still made by hand using methods that have been refined over 100 years!

bunmeido castella

Doesn't this look really good?!

TLDR: This is definitely one of the best Castella cakes that I’ve ever had. The layers add a nice contrast to the flavor and texture of the cake.

Bunmeido's Original 1962 TV commercial

 

Look at all these other delicious Japanese snacks!

 

Shigeki Abe
Shigeki Abe

Founder of Snakku; Born in Tokyo and raised in New York, Shigeki has always traveled and explored the world through food.


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