These days the ubiquitous white sandwich loaf no longer reigns as Malaysia's bread of choice. Ardent bread lovers are spoilt for choice as the kinds of bread available is as wide and varied as the country's racial make-up. While the acceptance of rustic European-style breads remains lukewarm at best, the popularity of Japanese-style breads and bakery products has risen to an all-time high. The sheer number of Japanese bakeries such as Sun Moulin, RT Pastry House, The Loaf, Komugi and Free Mori sprouting up all over the Klang Valley is proof enough.
No lack of choices here
Raised on old-fashioned loaves of roti Bengali with its dark, thick crust and fluffy soft texture and later, commercially produced sandwich loaves, Malaysians have quickly succumbed to the cottony-softness of Japanese "pan" or breads, sometimes incorporating distinctly Japanese flavours: green tea, adzuki red bean, black sesame or melon in them. Even the semi-hard variants have fared better compared to the harder, denser "ang moh" (European) breads.
According to Bonjour Bakery's grand chef Yukichi Matsubara, his Japanese breads differ from European ones as they are made using Japanese and European baking techniques with levain, or natural yeasts, to give them greater flavour and depth. “Premium quality and natural ingredients such as imported flour from Japan, Belgian butter and real fruits also make all the difference,” he said. One of the earliest Japanese-styled bakeries to enter the local market is The Loaf. Opened in 2006, The Loaf now has 10 outlets throughout the Klang Valley and two in Langkawi.
Managing director Jiro Suzuki says: “Our recipes were Japanese initially but recently, we have created newer recipes such as Rendang Chicken Oyaki, Green Chilli Chicken Oyaki and Spicy Potato to appeal to local tastebuds. However, selected hard breads such as Campagne Fromage and Magazine, and sweet breads like Cranberry Cheese and Red Bean Walnut are still our best-selling items.” So where to next for your daily bread?
Buns and pastry of all shapes and sizes Bonjour
Like a lush, verdant garden, Bonjour offers no less than 70 different items daily; ranging from classic French and inventive Asian pastries to assorted hard and soft breads. Prices start from RM2.20 onwards.
Hand-crafted creations at The Loaf
This bakery is best known for its hand-crafted artisan creations such as chicken onion loaf, pumpkin cinnamon bread, cereal fig bread and cranberry chocolate soft bread. The creamy and fluffy Nama roll (nama means "fresh" in Japanese) and Uhuhu cheesecakes are equally noteworthy. Prices start from RM1.90 onwards.
Drool-inducing selection of cakes, tarts and macarons
"It's Japan Baked Daily" with 150 types of Japanese breads, luscious cakes and confectionery hitting the shelves at Komugi. Priced from RM2 onwards, their specialities include Hanjuku cheesecake, lemon brioche and tomato and olive bread.
The red-bricked exterior of Hokkaido Japanese Pastry House and its signature cream cake Hokkaido Japanese Pastry House
Choice oven-fresh offerings include tuna charcoal bun, shrimp roe French bread, green tea cake, mashed potato egg bun and Hokkaido cream cake at Hokkaido Japanese Pastry House. Priced from RM2.10 onwards.