Example CustomerFresh bakery “Un Fil”
Fresh bakery “Un Fil,” an honest, rock-inspired bakery loved by its community
Interior view of bakery “Un Fil,” featuring an open kitchen.
“It had always been my dream to open a bakery loved by its community,” says the owner, who established this community-based bakery in Okayama City. The bakery, which uses 100% domestic wheat, offers over 30 types of products, including sweetbreads, filled and topped breads, and baked sweets that are popular with a wide range of people. Aiming to put a smile on the faces of its customers, the bakery's many original products are born from a rich imagination, an honest attitude of not hiding anything from the customers, and the whimsical spirit of the owner, who is a fan of famous rock bands.
Preparation starts at 1am
The bakery sits in a residential area along Route 30, which runs from Okayama City across the Seto Inland Sea to Kagawa Prefecture. At 1am, while neighborhood lights are off and the only traffic is medium- to long-distance trucks passing by on the national highway, preparation work starts at Un Fil, a fresh bakery bread restaurant created by converting an old Japanese-style house. Bakeries, tofu shops, and milk vendors are all known to be early risers, but 1am is still the middle of the night. Owner Masako Kusaka says, “I have over 30 types of bread on the shelves. I want customers to be excited when they see the shelves in the shop and say, 'Wow, there's a lot of bread! Since I do all of the preparation myself, if I don't start that early, it won't be ready when we open at 9am.”
The bakery opened in May 2023. Its name, "un fil," is a French word that means "one thread." She chose this name in the hope that bread would make a connection between the bakery and its community and customers. All the bakery's breads and baked goods are made entirely from domestic wheat. Because this ingredient policy is a promise to customers, it is always written alongside the bakery's name.
Although the shop doesn't run special promotions, other than visiting neighboring apartment complexes to greet potential customers and hand out sample baked goods, the owner says, "We want to serve goods that are safe for everyone, from small children to the elderly, and that they can eat every day without getting bored of them. I don't hide anything from my customers." Her desire to be honest and straightforward, combined with the appeal of the bread, has been well-received by the community and helped the bakery quickly become a thriving success.
- Exterior view of the shop. On opening day, May 6, 2023, a swallow nested in the eaves!
Elderly customers often come twice a day to buy the same products
In addition to standard items like bread and croissants, the shop sells over 30 different types of filled and topped breads, sweetbreads, and baked sweets. Products like these reflect the owner's desire to make the shop a community favorite.
The most popular item is the original curry buns. The curry filling contains stewed pork cubes and a whole quail egg. Kusaka says, “A local favorite in Okayama is steamed pork buns, which is kind of their comfort food. Since its main ingredients are stewed pork cubes and quail eggs, I decided to apply this familiar combination to our curry buns.” These buns are mildly spicy, so anyone can enjoy them. The bread is also baked rather than deep-fried to avoid heartburn.
The next best-selling item is the “Anshio Butter Roll” (anko-filled salted butter roll). This Japanese-style butter roll is made with Koshi An (sweet red bean paste) and sprinkled with sesame seeds on surface of butter roll. The key is to use just the right amount of salt. Kusaka shares an anecdote: “Elderly people have stopped by twice a day to buy it, saying, 'I ate it earlier, and it was so delicious!'” The shop also sells “Oyaki” (leaf mustard) and other items geared toward the elderly.
- Cutaway view of a curry bun (330 yen). The owner says that they frequently sell out in the morning.
- Anshio Butter Roll (shown in front; 200 yen)
Fujimak ovens are the perfect match for bakeries
that emphasize cleanliness
Un Fil uses several pieces of Fujimak bakery equipment, including a convection oven, deck oven, proofing cabinet, dough conditioner, and cold table. The bakery's signature curry buns are also baked in Fujimak deck ovens, which heat the dough from both above and below.
Kusaka says, “We don't want to hide anything from our customers, so our bakery has an open kitchen. Fujimak equipment is ideal for displaying because it is all so stylishly designed. When the black front panels get dirty, they tend to stand out. so it's good to get into the habit of cleaning them often. The cold table is not only stylish but also convenient to use because there is no center pillar to block you from taking things out.”
- Work area The cold table's top serves as the main work surface.
Adding individuality because it's “my shop”
Kusaka started her bakery as a “one-person operation,” doing both the baking and the selling herself, but she recently hired an employee to run the cash register. This, she says, has been a huge help, allowing her to bake extra bread during business hours.
She says, “It had always been my dream to open a bakery loved by its community. There is no greater feeling than when I come out of the kitchen announcing that a bread item is ready and customers put it on their tray while excitedly saying, 'Wow, freshly baked bread!' Now that I've added sales staff, I have a little more time, so I plan to expand my business.”
Because the owner used to make desserts before she started the bakery, she has a wealth of dessert-related recipes. She says that she hopes to expand her business as a place that “connects customers” by opening an eat-in café that also serves soft-serve ice cream and desserts.
- Owner Kusaka. She says that all of her personal clothes are black.
Un Fil strives to be a warm, well-liked restaurant with breads that everyone can enjoy, from young people to the elderly. That is certainly one of Un Fil's charms, but it is not the only one. Owner Kusaka, who lovingly arranges the bread on the shelves while wearing a large silver earring in her left ear, is actually a huge rock and heavy metal music enthusiast. One of her favorite bands is “X Japan,” a visually oriented rock band. The background music played in the bakery at the early morning hours and the during business hours is rock music. She says that she will soon be adding a new product called “Kurenai Curry Buns,” which feature a deep red and spicy based on one of X Japan's most popular songs, “Kurenai” (dark red).
“I'd love to try selling bread that is really hard or features spikes,” shares Kusaka. “I jokingly tell people around me, 'It's my store, so I can do whatever I want,'” Kusaka says with a mischievous smile. With the owner's personality combined with her unwavering love for the community, Un Fil is sure to attract more and more customers in the years to come.
|Fresh bakery “Un Fil”
|71 Nishi-Takasaki, Minami-ku, Okayama City
|Mondays and Tuesdays