Butaman vs. Nikuman: Japanese Steamed Pork Buns

Around this time of year, convenience store chains in Japan begin selling Chukaman (中華まん) or Chinese-style steamed buns. They are usually kept warm in a warming showcase set next to the checkout counter.

There are many variations of Chukaman buns in Japan, where each convenience store chain offers specialty varieties.

Among those, Nikuman (肉まん) is the quintessential one most familiar to us Japanese, which is widely enjoyed around the country from autumn to spring.

Nikuman vs. Butaman

As you may know, Nikuman is referred to as a pork bun in English-speaking countries and is relatively well-recognized even outside of Japan. 

But have you ever heard of Butaman (豚まん), a variety of Chukaman just like Nikuman?

Nikuman (肉まん)

Nikuman Pork Buns

The name of the Chukaman, Nikuman/肉まん, is composed of two words: Niku (肉), meaning meat in Japanese, and Man (まん) for Manju (饅頭), which is the name for traditional Japanese steamed buns.

Although the word Niku can refer to any meat, the main ingredient in Nikuman is usually ground pork, as seen in the English name of Pork bun. But we also use chicken and beef in the bun.

Other than ground pork, typical ingredients for the filling include finely chopped green onions, bamboo shoots, and shiitake mushrooms.

Also, we may add scallop adductor, oyster sauce, or shark fins to the filling for extra flavor.

The steamed bun of Nikuman itself is soft and fluffy, usually with a white color. The leavened dough typically consists of wheat flour kneaded with water, sugar, yeast, and baking powder.

Since Nikuman is the most loved Chukaman variety in Japan, here, you can see the buns in the frozen food section of supermarkets. When you want to enjoy the frozen ones, you usually only microwave them.

Butaman (豚まん)

Butaman Pork Bun

As in Nikuman, the Man (まん) part of Butaman is short for Manju, while Buta (豚) is the Japanese word for pig.

So, the main ingredient of Butaman is also pork. But just like Nikuman, we also use chicken and beef in the bun.

Butaman is marketed mainly in Western Japan, where Niku (肉) generally refers to beef. So, instead of Niku, the sellers use the word for pig, Buta (豚), to refer to pork buns. 

Thus, Butaman and Nikuman are essentially the same things.

(Reference Page: Wikipedia 中華まん )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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