Sporadic Happiness (in Japan!)

(formerly) updated every Wednesday

#31 Foods I will miss from Japan – THE BREAD

on July 4, 2012

Today we will talk about THE BREAD here in Japan.

Oh it’s so good.  How shall I sing its praises?  I’ve fallen in love with Japanese bakeries so hard since coming to Japan, that my boyfriend and I sometimes talk, half-seriously, half-dreamily, how we should open up our own Japanese-style bakery someday in the US, ideally on a college campus.  It seems like it would do really well there.

Japanese bakeries serve breads that are fresh, relatively cheap, and that are very unique.  There are a host of flavors, from the sweet more dessert like breads, to the heartier meal like breads, to the in-between snack like breads.

There are a lot of “chain store” bakeries.  Fred’s Cafe was my favorite from when I studied abroad, because there was one inside a train station that I often stopped by on my commute home from school.

The picture below was taken of a different Fred’s Cafe in Sannomiya, Kobe.

And here is my beloved “home” Fred’s cafe in the Nishinomiya Kitaguchi station:

I actually had the audacity, back in November 2011 when I took these photos, to take photos inside the store.  Most people who work at stores don’t like it when you take pictures inside, for all sorts of reasons, but I was sneaky, and so excited to be back at this particular Fred’s Cafe (which I had been away from for a little over 2 years, the time between I left Japan with study abroad to the time I returned on JET).

The breads are sitting on shelves out in the open.  They each have a little placard with the name of the bread, a description of what’s in it, and the price per piece.

When you walk into the store you grab a tray and tongs and you walk around and select as many or as few breads as you like.

What’s on offer varies from day to day, and even hour to hour, as new fresh baked breads are sometimes brought out and added to the shelves.

After selecting your breads, you take them to the counter, they ring them up, put each bread in its own individual plastic bag, then put all the breads you selected into another bag with the company logo:

A couple of weeks ago I was in the Osaka-Umeda station (for Hankyu Trains – my favorite line in Kansai – cheap, clean, snazzy – the trains are actually featured in the background of the above picture!).  My boyfriend was feeling a bit hungry so we stopped by the Fred’s cafe just outside the ticket gates on the lower level.  Here are the breads he got:

The one on the left had hash browns on it (sort of a breakfasty-thing) and the one on the right was some sort of cheese bread.

And here are the breads I got:

It had apricots on it, which was such a rare find in Japan!

I accidentally took a bite out of this before remembering to take a picture.  It’s something akin to a brownie, though it’s a lot more squishy in a delicious way – my boyfriend likened it to a brownie x marshmallow mix.  I find it 10 times more delectable than an actual brownie.

And here are some pictures I took of the establishment on the way out.

Of course there are other chain bakeries, but I prefer Fred’s not only for nostalgia reasons, but because their breads tend to be slightly on the cheaper side compared to other places, and the quality of the breads is generally a sort of chewy doughiness that I absolutely LOVE.  Plus they tend to have a lot of cream-filled breads which I personally am quite fond of.

To not be overly biased though, here’s a few more breads.

Below is some I got from a chain I often go to in Fukuyama called “Vie de France”

The big one on the left is filled with cream cheese; the long one is Green Tea flavored with cream in it, and the little one is a sort of mochi-like piece that is lemon-flavored.

I also bought a delicious apple-themed bread at a road-side rest-stop while on a bus from Fukuyama to Kyoto that had brown sugar and bit of apple on the inside (and the outside was a little sticky).

Japan is a wonderland of strange and sweet breads!

Have you eaten some of these delicacies in Japan or elsewhere?  I saw Japanese-style bakeries in Hong Kong.  I really hope Taiwan has at least a couple as well!

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