NKOTB: Takahachi Bakery

NKOTB, for those not of a certain age, stands for “New Kids on the Block.”

The notion of a “Japanese bakery” might draw a blank—after all, most Japanese restaurants in New York avoid baking. But in recent decades, Japan has embraced European-style baking to a huge extent. I’ll never forget popping into a bakery during my first day in Tokyo and being astounded by the breadth of pastries on offer. Which isn’t to say that Japan didn’t put its own spin on many of the pastries; what looked like a simple croissant might have been filled with—well, who knows what.

“I wanted provide healthy, safe food,” said Hiroyuki Takahashi when I asked why he decided to open Takahachi Bakery. “In Japan, people die of cancer, but here they die of heart disease, and that’s because of their eating habits.” He explained how he used to be a mountain climber in Japan, then sold noodles in New York with his father. After opening Takahachi restaurant in the East Village 20 years ago, he launched the Takahachi on Duane Street in 2002. And in the eight years since, he has watched the neighborhood become more populated and much more residential. “So many families come to Takahachi,” he said, and between them and the workers in the area, he figured everyone could use a good lunch option. To that end, Takahachi Bakery is more than just a bakery—it also sells soup, salads, and sandwiches, some of which are in a heated case. And there’s housemade sorbet and gelato! (I tasted the tomato/white wine sorbet and the chocolate sorbet and they were delicious.)

The room is pretty in a modern way, with wood floors, chalkboard menus, and exposed brick; there will be 13 tables seating 26 people. Through a window, you can watch the bakers at work—and there are a lot of them, 10 total (many work in the basement). Then again, someone has to create all those baked goods. Takahachi Bakery more varieties of buns, danishes, cookies, pastries, and cakes than you can shake a rolling pin at. The pastry chef worked for a long time at Bouley, and it shows. “We’ll be making sixty different kinds of bread,” said manager Kimie Kobayashi, “but we’ll rotate them in and out.” Same goes for sandwiches and salads: “Every day is a surprise,” she said.

In two ways, Takahachi Bakery is very much a Japanese bakery: Everything except soup and beverages is self-service, meaning you grab a tray and tongs and get down to business (“We want you to feel how soft and fresh-baked the bread is,” said Kobayashi). And while you’ll find western staples such as pain au chocolat and chocolate chip cookies, Japanese ingredients have been incorporated here and there: macha (green tea powder), kinako (dry soybean powder), red bean powder, yuzu citrus peel, and mochi (sticky rice), goma (sesame), and soybean in breads.

Takahachi Bakery is at 25 Murray St. (east of Church); its hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m on Saturday, and in June, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

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  1. Looks delicious!

  2. We just went there for lunch today. It’s a beautiful space and has a nice calm feel to it. The pastry display was just gorgeous, but there were definitely more sweet than savory options today, with a smaller sandwich selection than listed on the board. I think they are still getting themselves in order, but the tomato and mozzarella sandwiches were perfectly flavored and the half sausage on croissants were delicious. We will be back! :)

  3. I’m so happy reading your article that I can cry!!! A Japanese bakery in my neighborhood! A noodle shop next, please!

  4. I can’t wait to visit this bakery! Too bad it’s so far from my workplace. Has anyone tried the matcha pastries? The pastries are a bit pricey, but that’s expected.