For a city that seemingly has a sushi spot every few city blocks, it’s a surprise that there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to go for a Japanese-style bagel.
Well, until now, that is.
WA-BAGEL, the counter-service concept restaurant that offers Japanese-style bagels, has announced its plans to officially open in Vancouver on September 13 at 666 Burrard Street.
Okay, but what even is a Japanese-style bagel? We’re so glad you asked.
For starters, take Canadian flour and combine it with Japanese food techniques. What this means is that, instead of mixing ingredients straight into the dough, they are instead rolled into it, in a similar style to how rice balls and sushi rolls are created. This results in a light and chewy dough that leaves the texture of the filling to stand on its own.
“We are excited to introduce something new to the Canadian market with WA-BAGEL,” says Seigo Nakamura, founder and CEO of ABURI Restaurants Canada (the team behind WA-BAGEL, as well as mainstay favourites including Miku and Minami), in a statement. “Our team, together with head baker Yukiko Iikura, have been working hard on testing and perfecting recipes. I’ve had a chance to sample every flavour, and look forward to having guests try Japanese-style bagels for the first time.”
Those flavours include, but are in not limited to: the Original Wa-Bagel, made with koji-yeast; Kinako, featuring a sweet and nutty roasted soybean powder; Red Bean and Cream Cheese, which has a sweet red bean paste and cream cheese and is topped with sesame seeds; and Mochi Matcha, filled with, you guessed it, mochi, plus red bean paste and chopped walnuts.
There are also a number of sandwiches that will be on the lunch menu, with fillings including smoked sockeye salmon and Montreal smoked meat.
The new spot’s head baker, Yukiko Iikura, is no stranger to Japanese-style bagels; she founded a popular bagel shop in Japan called Kep Bagels and has even published a book on the topic.
“I love bread because of the unique textures and flavours they can create, and grew up enjoying all the varieties we have in Japan,” says Iikura in a release. “With bagels, there are so many possibilities. Our bagels are a tribute to New York’s bagels and my Japanese heritage. I like to say Japanese-style bagels are inspired by the chewy texture of mochi rice cakes, and they truly are. It’s one of my favourite textures. I can’t wait for people in Canada to try our bagels very soon.”
If you’re hoping to taste the newest addition to Vancouver’s baked goods scene, you’ll be able to check out WA-BAGEL Monday to Friday, from 8am to 3pm, starting September 13.