¥900 for sliced bread? Chikoku no Susume’s super fancy loaf
High-quality sliced bread is “the best thing since sliced bread.” A strange use of the phrase but potentially not as strange as the idiom itself. As a child raised on Wonder Bread, this was a confusing metric. Not to say that utility sliced bread is bad, it merely existed as a delivery mechanism for other more palatable things.
Shokupan (食パン) is the table bread of Japan—square, soft, and slightly sweetened loaves that are perfect for toasting and commonly sold in the supermarket for a dollar or two a loaf. At this price point, one does not have high expectations with results similar to my Wonder Bread experiences growing up.
Times have certainly changed since my childhood and we enter the current days of plenty with artisan cheese, specialty butchers, and farm-fresh vegetables sold directly to customers. High-quality sourdoughs, ciabattas, and baguettes are regularly offered at your local bakery, but asking ¥900 for a loaf of sliced bread might be a long shot to modern consumers in the West.
This is not true of Japan.
(Image credit: Eugene Lee)
The artisan sliced bread trend did not start at Bakery Chikoku no Susume (遅刻のすすめ) but its proprietor Kishimoto Takuya (岸本拓也) popularised the trend in Japan. The bakery’s selection of items is blissfully simple: white bread (¥870) and raisin bread (¥1,060).
The exquisite packaging of Chikoku no Susume. (Image credit: Eugene Lee)
The product itself is excellent and the care taken to maintain the integrity of the bread is top notch. The loaves are put in plastic bags that are left open to preserve the crunchy crust and to stop the bread from going stale. The bakery offers eating suggestions such as eating the bread untoasted and the website proudly displays a picture of the loaves being split in half by hand, so I followed suit.
Hand torn by yours truly. (Image credit: Eugene Lee)
I tore off a hunk of soft, pillowy bread like an animal. While tearing into the bread by hand there were little tufts of floss-like bread strands, a night and day difference to supermarket loaves which lack any real gluten structure. There is a huge difference in quality between the artisan loaves and store-bought sliced bread. The Chikoku no Susume loaf had a weighty and satisfying density. The exterior was crusty, and the interior was soft and fluffy—it was truly a delicious delight.
Bakery Chikoku no Susume and other high-quality shokupan establishments are a sign of wonderful trends in food. Restaurants are choosing to specialise in one thing rather than being mediocre at many. Here is a shop that focuses on the beauty of a perfectly-made piece of toast rather than a cacophony of options.
Chikoku no Susume (遅刻のすすめ)
Address: 5-1-1 Sakuraguchi-chō, Nada-ku, Kobe, Hyogo 657-0036
Nearest station: Rokomichi Station (六甲道駅)
Opening hours: 10am–6pm