the sign and the building
one side of the sign
This time, our spotlight is on a bakery that may be a bit out of the way but is well worth the trip. The name of the bakery comes from Senegalese lighting god. The owner, Mr. Mitsuhiko Kawashima, went to a bakery of the same name in Senegal during his time volunteering with JICA.
Mr. Kawashima met the owner of the bakery in Senegal, became friends, and before coming back to Japan took a picture together to remember the time they shared. Sadly, the owner passed away and soon the bakery shut down. To keep his memory alive, Mr. Kawashima opened a bakery here in Niigata in 2001 in honor of his Senegalese friend. The symbol he chose to put on his sign is based on a real Senegalese coin that is said to be based on the shape of a stingray.
Since opening the bakery, the owner wakes up at 3:30 every morning and begins preparing a selection of their 30 varieties of breads. The baker learned how to make bread, particularly hard breads, at a bakery school in Tokyo school. He was taught by a German “Meister” while in Tokyo and came back to Niigata to learn the rest of his trade-primarily the typical Japanese bakery sweet and soft breads.
When you walk into the bakery, the first thing you see is today’s selection of breads. The varieties change depending on the day but what you can be sure of is french bread is made on Thursdays and rye bread made on Fridays.
The selection in the picture may seem limited until you remember that the do all the baking in the morning before they open up and we went at lunch time, after all of the students of Keiwa High (right next door) and their parents have come through.
the dining area
books and the register
After you buy your breads (and potentially a coffee to go with it) you can walk into the open and bright dining area, grab a glass of barley tea, sit down and enjoy your bread. At which point you will soon notice something peculiar.
They have goats in the backyard!
Since we were there by appointment, we were told to have a seat while they brought us a selection of some of today’s top picks. (Sadly, they didn’t have their most popular bread, melon bread, in stock that day).
Left: Apple roll. Right: Anpan (red bean paste bread). Bottom; Walnut raisin bread
But these were so good. It is easy to see why the walnut raisin bread (made with walnuts and raisins imported from California) is a best seller; it was fantastic. I still do not believe that it was a “failure batch” because the shape was off? It was so wonderfully soft and perfectly sweet.
While we were enjoying these, pizza came out. However, the table was so full we had to play bread tetris in order to get everything to fit on the table.
bacon and veggie pizza
sausage and green pepper pizza
the table was so full
As an American, I am very picky when it comes to pizza. Everyone has their own tastes and I know what I like. My ideal pizza is one with simple and tasty sauce and toppings but most important is the crust.
My favorite crust is a sturdy crust that holds up the toppings, is tender, and has a crisp bottom: this pizza delivered on all accounts. I was most surprised by the fact that the crust was made using their basic bread dough. Do note that the pizzas are by reservation only!
This place is definitely worth the trip. It may be out of the way for some people but they have bus stops that are mere seconds away in addition to a large parking lot. There are buses that connect this bakery to the Bandai area (no transfers!) you just have to be aware of the schedule as, depending on the time of day, there is only one bus an hour.
At a glance
Food: So tasty and for a great price.
Atmosphere: Bright, open, and airy
English Friendliness: 3/10 There is no written menu but everything is out and labeled in Japanese. I believe the owner has enough English to explain a little if you have questions.
Price Range: Lunch ￥300-900
Members’ perk: Set drink (hot/cold coffee)
Closed: Weekends, holidays
753-9 Tayuhama, Kita-ku, Niigata, Niigata Prefecture 950-3112