This store* is at my local mall, and sells traditional Japanese bread called melon pan, filled with ice cream. I had seen it there recently, and today Mike and I got a chance to try it. The first thing that you notice walking up to the store is the delicious smell of fresh bread wafting from the door. Definitely a good first impression there!
(*the full - and rather lengthy - name for the store is "Sekai de Nibanme ni Oishii Yakitate Melon Pan Aisu" which translates to "The Second-Most Delicious Ice Cream Melon Bread in the World" - I love a business with a sense of humor!)
If you haven't had melon pan before, it's a bit of a Japanese specialty. It's not called melon because it's flavored that way, but because the texture and appearance of the bread looks like the outer texture of a melon.
There are a number of different ice cream flavors that you're able to choose from. We went with the marble variety which was like a chocolate and vanilla swirl, but they had more traditional Japanese varieties on offer such as black sesame and kinako (roasted soybean flour).
You simply make your flavor selection from the ice creams on offer, and the staff member will cut up your melon pan and stuff it full! It is a bit messy to eat - but that's part of the fun. They also had full loaves of melon pan that you could purchase if you wanted more. I was a little concerned that the bread would get soggy, but since the outer shell of the melon pan has that nice crispy crunch to it, it stayed intact quite well!
The end product is perhaps not the most photogenic food item going around, but what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in taste! It was only 390 yen and I would definitely say it's worth a try if you stumble across one of their store locations - particularly if you're after a unique sweet treat with a Japanese spin on it.
The website for MelonPan-Ice can be found here but it is in Japanese -- Google Translate can definitely assist with finding the store locations on there. They also have a Facebook page.