Asanoya breads vroom in
Asanoya is a big name bakery in Japan, and it is perhaps not surprising that the person bringing them into Singapore has plenty of experience dealing with the Japanese.
Executive director of Tan Chong International - which distributes Subaru and Nissan cars here - Mr Glenn Tan's latest gig is selling roti.
This, after his capers as a radio voice talent. (He voices that Ah Beng boss alter ego who keeps slapping his silly henchman over disputes about fish and aquariums in the irritatingly funny and famous ads that tout Subaru cars.)
But he might have hit a winner with the bread. The bread is from an acclaimed 81-year-old brand, which has earned plenty of accolades.
Mr Tan says the venture is not too different from his car business.
"Our Tan Chong brand is today about lifestyle. Driving, living and eating well are our brand touchpoints."
He adds that the "eating" part is new.
He explains that the culinary space is one that they will "seriously venture into".
"Over the decades, we've built up a lot of partners and contacts in Japan and in the region.
"And when driving around in foreign lands, food always features on those road trip adventures."
So, to him, it was quite a natural progression into the food and beverage business.
About $1 million was spent to bring Asanoya in.
The softness of the bread and the subtleties of flavour are what sold Mr Tan on the possibilities.
The venture partners "insist that they use every piece of equipment and ingredient from Japan", he reveals.
Asanoya's consultant from Japan, Kobayashi Naomichi will be working in the bakery here till things are smooth and steady.
One bite into their signature Karuizawa blueberry bread and I realised it is very easy to like.
What is there not to like about a crusty, freshly baked loaf of berry bread?
It is soft and cloud-fluffy and dotted with berries.
It is so popular in Japan, they sell it by weight. They are doing the same here at $2.60 per 100g.
I ate it on its own - no need for any of the jams that are sold separately in the spanking new, bright and cheerful cafe-bakery at Queen Street.
I fell for their Tea Bread ($4.20 a loaf).
It is soft, aromatic and infused with specks of Earl Grey tea leaves.
But the simple bao-looking Au Pan Chocolate ($2.80), was what surprised me: Half-melted chocolate pellets are buried inside.
The nutty yet oozy chocolatey bite was such a delight.
The maple walnut pretzel ($3.20) bread had a soft, chewy and firm texture that was enlivened with sugared caramelised crust.
I may sneak a jar of kaya in next time, to pair with the blueberry bread.
Asanoya Bakery Singapore
- 15 Queen Street #01-03 Wilby Central Building
- 8am to 10pm daily
- Tel: 6703-8703
Makansutra, founded by kf seetoh, is a company that celebrates asian food culture and lifestyle. It publishes food guides in and around the region, produces a food series, develops interactive mobile content and services, operates foodcourts and eateries, organises food tours and events, and consults on culinary concepts.