Nothing beats a recommendation from the person who actually makes the dish, and O Bun Chef's Jane was happy to help us out.
Just one thing… at O Bun Chef
They only sell one thing at O Bun Chef: Japanese Obanyaki.
The dough-y pockets of cake can be filled with five options – red bean, custard, coconut, chocolate, or lemon custard. And while the dessert originates from the Kanto region of Japan (which includes Tokyo) where it is called Imagawayaki, the Obanyaki bun format derives from the Kansai region of Japan, which includes Osaka and Kyoto.
Find O Bun Chef in the Central Market Plaza, which sits between the Central Market proper and the food court. It is open from 7am, Tues-Sat.
Traditionally, the buns are filled with bean paste, however, the vanilla custard filling is The One for us. There’s something about the thick consistency of the custard and the not-too-sweet but not-too-savoury taste that takes us back to our childhood, where our dad would sometimes – if we were lucky – make us custard over the stove for a mid-winter treat.
And, also much like our childhood, the buns are a no cutlery deal. Pulling them straight out of the bag and breaking them apart with your hands is just as enjoyable an event as the actual eating of the dessert.
O Bun is run by Jane and her husband. And, though Jane says it is her husband that owns the shop, Jane was the one who decided their food offering would be O Bun-specific.
“This a traditional Japanese cuisine dessert and they bring through Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia. And when I was little, I always liked this food,” Jane told us with a beaming smile.
The Central Market stand began back in 2005 as a little cart beside the pharmacy that sits across from its existing location. That cart operated there for two years before Jane and her husband moved the business into the corner shop where it has remained for the past decade.
There, the buns are made fresh and prepared in front of your eyes by staff who have been specially trained in the delicate art of Obanyaki making.
When we asked Jane what skills the makers needs to perfect the dessert, she laughed knowingly: “Patience.”
And, judging by the immense popularity of the little store, patience may also be a valued asset to those who wish to pick up an O Bun around lunch time – so we recommend trying one for breakfast.