Zakuzaku hit the Japanese confectionary scene in 2014 to much fanfare. Zakuzaku, which means crunchy in Japanese, first opened in Hokkaido. As the cream filling proudly presents the fact that Hokkaido milk is used is not much of a surprise.
When you first look at the “croquant chou” is appears somewhat alien in nature. It has an elongated shape, but is filled like a cream puff. I ended up calling it a “Japanese churro” for lack of a better description.
The pastries are made in the store, and are filled to order, much like the beloved Beard Papa. However, there is an expiration date on your dessert. It is recommended that it be eaten within two hours.
Lines can be somewhat long but usually move rather quickly. Due to the “expiration date” people generally will not buy many at a time.
The filling is more custard/pudding like than Beard Papa. The cream is not very sweet, and has a strong milk flavor. With the added almond crunch, these bad boys put Beard Papa to shame.
Due to the lightness of the pastry, and the density of the filling, it is recommended that you eat the Zakuzaku rather quickly, before it starts to get soggy.
I made the Herculean effort to try and bring a couple of these things back home. After ~15 hours in transit, they actually held up better than I expected, but had lost a lot of the texture as it became somewhat soggy, but were still very good. I highly recommend that you eat them as quickly as possible in order to enjoy them to its fullest.