Korea’s Dojima craze
A minimalist Swiss roll-shaped cake from Japan hits the big time in Seoul.
ANEW it-dessert has landed in Seoul: the Dojima roll. Shaped like a minimalist Swiss roll cake, this cream-filled, golden sponge from Japan attracted crowds the moment it arrived at Shinsegae’s Gangnam store and Hyundai’s Apgujeong-dong store in August.
“After the outlet opened, lines of around 100 kept forming and everything would be sold out by 4pm,” said Hyundai Department Store buyer Hwang Hye-jung.
The same goes for the Shinsegae shop, which, according to a PR representative, is selling out between 2pm and 4pm. “That is how popular it is,” said the Shinsegae representative.
Though Iida Mina, the brand’s Korea marketing manager, says production has increased to meet demand, customers are continuing to queue at both shops for Mon Chou Chou’s signature roll cakes and other sweets.
The overwhelming response to the Osaka-based brand’s desserts is all the more fascinating because of the Fukushima radiation scare.
Concerns about radiation from Japanese products do not seem to be deterring sweet fiends from enjoying Mon Chou Chou’s Dojima rolls, which are made with cream from Hokkaido.
“We are very grateful to our Korean customers,” said Yamada Yasuko, marketing representative for the brand’s company Mon Cher Co. Ltd.
“The products are checked for radiation in advance,” Shinsegae’s PR representative added.
At first glance, the 18,000 won (RM55) five-piece cake seems deceptively pared down, a loop of egg custard-coloured sponge, bulging with pure, white cream and dusted with powdered sugar.
Then a bite unearths the straightforward charms of the roll.
The cream is thick, but not heavy, sweet and rich in milk flavour but not cloying. The sponge layer is dense yet airy.
After that piece has long disappeared from one’s plate, days later even, one might find oneself thinking about the tasty contradiction of dense richness and light airiness that is achieved with that one dessert.
The cream’s remarkably light yet thick mouthfeel can be partially credited to Kim Mi-hwa, CEO of Mon Cher.
“When we opened Mon Chou Chou, the cream was our primary focus because CEO Kim Mi-hwa had difficulty eating cream herself,” said Mon cher’s Yamada.
Yamada explained how Kim searched for cream that she could enjoy as well.
After visiting farms in Hokkaido, several places were chosen to provide the milk that is essential to the Dojima roll’s luscious cream, which is the only ingredient Yamada says could not be replaced by ingredients available in Korea.
When the roll was first created 10 years ago, it looked like a runof-the-mill Swiss roll, said Yamada, but because of an unprecedented number of customers, the general spiral of sponge with cream in between was abbreviated into a single loop of cake with just cream in the middle to meet demand.
“We thought that if we made the sponge short, just enough so the cream wouldn’t ooze out, then we would be able to provide more rolls to customers,” Yamada elaborated.
Now that abbreviated cake is Mon Chou Chou’s headline act, not just in Japan but in Korea too. — The Korea Herald/Asia News Network
Cake sensation: mon chou chou’s headline act, the dojima roll. (Left) customers keep coming for the rolls at its Shinsegae Gangnam department Store shop in Seocho-gu, Seoul. — the Korea Herald