Usually found in perfectly 90° square sided loaves, shokupan, as Japanese white bread is known as, is unbelievably fluffy, soft, and delicious. Milky cloud white with a tender crumb, it’s a loaf that will take you right back to childhood, conjuring up the images of the ultimate crustless white bread sandwiches you dreamed of your mom making. Of course, that’s a completely subjective view point – maybe I’m the only one who dreamed of crustless sandwiches made from the softest, whitest bread filled with salty smooth peanut butter and sweet strawberry jam.
The truth is, Japan is as obsessed about bread as it is about noodles or rice. While shokupan is plain and unassuming, with none of the texture or intense flavors of sourdough, it makes the perfect neutral canvas, much like a plain bowl of rice. Just like how rice can have nuances, so can shokupan. Bakeries pride themselves on both ingredients and history. Much like how you can judge a French bakery by its baguettes, you can also do the same with a Japanese bakery and its shokupan.
Here are Here arethree of my favorite places in Tokyo to get the fluffy white stuff! Just a heads up though, much like anything that’s popular in Tokyo, there maybe a line, don’t be surprised if there is, and be absurd be excited if there isn’t.
Centre the Bakery
Center the bakery has a delightful café where you can choose your own toaster. Choose your own toaster! I feel like that sentence is enough to make you want to go there but if you need more convincing, it also happens to be one of the best shokupan bakeries in Tokyo. They consistently have lines and often sell out of their whole loaves, especially their “European” and “American” style shokupan. If you’re not looking to buy a whole loaf, you can skip the long line on the right hand side of the bakery and line up on the left for the café. Try the toast set which will give you one slice of each type of shokupan, as well as different butters and jams.
365 Days is literally open every day of the year, except for leap year days. The original bakery is near Yoyogi Park, on a side street in a somewhat quiet area. That doesn’t stop them from having long lines of bread fans lining up for their famous crunchy croquant chocolat, a bun filled with crunchy little chocolate bits. They do excellent mini shokupan that are made with Hokkaido milk – perfect fresh and even better when toasted and slathered with butter. They’ve opened a new store in the more central location of Shinbashi, so there’s no excuse to not go!