The Difference : Butaman vs Nikuman Pork Buns

Around this time of year, convenience store chains in Japan begin selling “Chukaman (中華まん)” Chinese-style steamed buns.

The steamed buns are usually kept warm in a glass warming showcase set next to the checkout counter.

There are many variations of Chukaman buns in Japan and each Japanese convenience store chain offers their own special varieties.

Among those, “Nikuman (肉まん)” is the quintessential Chukaman bun most familiar to us Japanese and is widely enjoyed around the country during the period from early autumn to early spring.

The Difference between Butaman and Nikuman

As you may know, Nikuman is referred to as pork buns in English and relatively well-known even outside of Japan.

But have you ever heard of “Butaman (豚まん)” a Chukaman bun just like Nikuman?

Nikuman (肉まん)


The name of the Chukaman, Nikuman can be divided into 2 words, “Niku (肉)” meaning meat in Japanese and “Man (まん)” that stands for “Manju (饅頭)“. Manju is the word for traditional Japanese steamed buns.

Although Niku refers to any kind of meat, the main ingredient in Nikuman is ground pork as its English name “pork buns” indicates. But chicken and beef can also be used in the Chukaman bun.

Other than ground pork, the ingredients for the filling typically include finely chopped green onions, bamboo shoots, and shiitake mushrooms, and sometimes scallop adductor, oyster sauce or shark fins are also used in the filling. 

The steamed bun of Nikuman itself is soft and fluffy, and usually white in color. The dough is made by kneading wheat flour with water, sugar, yeast, and baking powder, and then leavening the mixture.

Since Nikuman is the most beloved Chukaman in Japan, the buns are available in the frozen food section in supermarkets. When you want to enjoy the frozen Nikuman, you just microwave them.

Butaman (豚まん)


As with Nikuman, the word “Man (まん)” in Butaman is the abbreviation for Manju, while “Buta (豚)” means hogs and pigs in Japanese.

Therefore, the main ingredient in Butaman is also pork, but just like Nikuman, chicken and beef can also be ingredients in the bun.

Actually, Butaman is sold mainly in western Japan where “Niku (肉)” generally refers to beef. So instead of Niku, the word that only refers to pork, “Buta (豚)” is used to refer to pork buns.

Thus, Butaman and Nikuman are essentially the same thing.

(Reference Page : Wikipedia 中華まん )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. I want to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures and trivia.

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