Korea’s Do­jima craze

A min­i­mal­ist Swiss roll-shaped cake from Ja­pan hits the big time in Seoul.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TASTE - By JEAN OH

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

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