“Tuna Toast?” is the most common reaction when I tell people the name of my blog. Without some sort of explanation, they probably think it’s just some cute little phrase I dreamed up that has no meaning whatsoever. Then it dawned on me that maybe the phrase “tuna toast” isn’t as familiar to people who have never lived in Japan.
You see, Japan- and Tokyo in particular- is chock full of coffee shops and cafes. Some are so tiny they only seat five, others are larger and of those, some are of part of a chain. There are SO many coffee shops in Japan that I like to tell people there are two on every corner. It certainly seems that way.
Why the overabundance of these kissaten? My best guess is that in a bustling city where most people travel by train and foot, it’s necessary to sit down for a minute and take a coffee/snack break. It isn’t like L.A. where you drive to the end of your street to mail something or balk at the 10 minute walk to the store. You walk, stand on a crowded train, maneuver through the 100,000 other people crossing the street, and then walk 20 blocks more to reach your destination. And repeat. Every single day. I need a cup of coffee and snack just writing this, it’s so exhausting.
Anyway, back to tuna toast. Tuna toast is a dish commonly found in these tiny coffee shops- probably 80% of them sell some version of it. At its core, tuna toast is exactly what its name implies- it’s toast, topped with tuna. Oh, but it’s sooo much more. The best versions of tuna toast are made with a thick slice of Japanese shokupan – light and flaky yet toothsome, yeasty and buttery all at the same time. This Rolls Royce of white bread is then topped with a generous heap of tuna salad made with Kewpie mayonnaise- again, a far better product than American mayo tasting of fresh eggs and full of umami. The whole thing is sprinkled with a bit of cheese and toasted in the oven until golden brown. It’s literally one of my favorite foods in the whole world, so I named my blog after it!
I know it sounds too simple to be so good, but the best things in life ARE the simple pleasures, aren’t they? Just make sure you use good ingredients- the shokupan and Kewpie are key- and you’ll be converted!