Crisp baguettes and delicious pastries at a bakery in Yaese Town Uchida-sei Pan
post : 2017.02.13 12:00
This small bakery is located in a residential area in Yaese Town on the south side of main island of Okinawa where sugarcane fields can still be seen all over town.
A cowbell hung around the doorknob made a cheerful welcoming sound when I opened the door. Inside, there was a small alter-like display made by owner Sayaka Uchida in a hollowed out portion of the wall.
The shop is of course filled with the aroma of fresh-baked bread. The croissants make a satisfying crunch when you bite into them and remain crispy as you chew. The trick to the distinctive sound and texture the way they make layers. They intentionally make fewer layers than most recipes so that you enjoy the crunchiness more. As a result of this, these croissants do not crumble to pieces when you bite into them.
Kuri no danish (chestnut danish) is more like a sweet than a pastry. Such seasonal pastries are very popular especially with female customers.
Quiche made with several kinds of vegetables is popular even with older patrons who may not be familiar with it. Why? Because explanations that everybody can understand about the kinds of pastries or breads they serve are displayed. The quiche, for instance, is described as something like a western-style steamed egg custard with vegetables (a Japanese dish called chawanmushi). They make it easy for everyone to imagine the taste of any pastry or bread.
The Apricot, Tomato and Mascarpone Tartine is a colorful pastry. The perfect combination of the sourness of tomatoes, sweetness of the apricots and the creaminess of the cheese make it a great choice with wine.
About 30 to 40 items from sweet pastries to savory buns (such as bread with cheese, sausages or vegetables) are sold daily. All the displays are labeled clearly so you can easily pick your favorites. Sayaka likes to take care of regular and local customers—especially kids—through her baking business.
Fresh baked breads come out from the oven one after another. The baguettes (available in hard and semi hard) are their specialties. They use several different kinds of flour depending on the particular recipe and the house-made yeast from raisins is used in all the breads.
Campagne made with rye flour is very dense and can be a great meal substitute for rice at meals. The more you chew, the more enjoyable the rye flavor gets. A famous restaurant in the south area serves this bread. The gourmet patrons of the restaurant are all fans of this bread.
The Rye Bread with Fried Onions is another popular item. Fried onions are kneaded into the dough before baking. Sayaka likes to provide breads made with ordinary ingredients for reasonable prices. Some of her older customers who had never seen baguettes before used to ask, “is this really something to eat?” Now, they are regular customers who enjoy visiting her shop. They always ask her about the day’s specials.
The interior of the shop is filled with décor that matches Sayaka's taste, including an antique wooden display case, nostalgic frosted glass windows, bread plates from her favorite artists, baskets, wooden plates and so on. Each item matches her breads perfectly and reflects her personality well.
Sayaka came to Okinawa 13 years ago and has run her bakery now for two years. She seems to have blended comfortably into the local community. In addition to her own products vegetables from a neighbor and bread plates from Akamashibaru pottery shop are sold in her shop.
The young local staff. Sayaka is on the right.
Just like the breads they sell, each is unique and expressive.
This is what I purchased today: Taro Pastry, Raisin Danish, No (from the Japanese character の) Bread, Apricot, Tomato and Mascarpone Tartine (see above), Figs Cooked in Red Wine with Sesame Seeds and Miso Tartine, and, finally, Akachan Pan (baby bread).
All breads and pastries are free of preservatives and comes with a note that explains how to get the most out of bread’s flavor and the best way to store it after purchase.
“Enjoy the taste of the dough,” Sayaka said. “The taste comes first, and the appearance comes next.” She goes on to explain that the quality of the dough, the final appearance of her creations and their texture inside the mouth are the three things that she emphasizes. “We always pay attention to the shapes. Aren’t they cute?” she continued with smile. “Look at the underside of the baguettes! Nice, huh?”
Address: 337 Tomori, Yaese Town
Closed: Monday and Tuesday
Okinawa CLIP photo writer: Shoko Tsuruta