Shunsuke Hashimoto's life's mission has always been to help introduce Japanese cuisine to other cultures.
“That’s what I wanted to do, always. This bakery is one of the ways to achieve my goal,” he says of his newly opened Enmore Road bakery, Azuki.
Hashimoto has been baking since he was 18, honing his skills at bakeries around the world in cities including Osaka, Vancouver and Seattle,
“Since I started my career, I always thought opening a Japanese-style bakery in another country was such a cool idea,” he tells SBS. While the baker says that people are always curious about new food, the trick is working out how to localise traditional recipes.
At Azuki, Hashimoto and his fiancée Yumi Ota have drawn inspiration from Japan, France and Australia to create popular baked goods with a Japanese twist. The wasabi sausage roll is one such creation: a seriously juicy pork and wasabi filling encased in buttery pastry, topped with wasabi soy or wasabi mayo.
“It came up when I was talking to my friend here in Australia,” Hashimoto says of the already legendary snack. “I said, ‘I’m going to open up a bakery and it’s going to be a Japanese-European fusion’. And we did some brainstorming and came up with a few ideas.”
They’ve also introduced Enmore Road to a buttery matcha croissant, a black sesame tiramisu, yuzu cheesecake, green tea lamingtons and matcha Mont Blancs. Ota oversees the production of cakes and sweets while Hashimoto specialises in making breads, including the charcoal sesame sourdough and the Mentaiko (cod roe) baguette.
It’s their first business together but not the first time the pair has worked side by side. As Ota prepares a matcha chiffon cake, spreading layer upon layer of the velvety filling between the cakes, she shares how she first met Hashimoto when they were colleagues at the now-closed Fujipan bakery in Sydney’s CBD.
“He asked me to help him make a wedding cake for his friend and I did. And that’s how we got closer!” she laughs.
Azuki has been open just under a month but is already right at home between Enmore foodie favourites Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream and The Stinking Bishops. Hashimoto says there’s been a few sleepless nights but he’s has been overwhelmed by the help of his Sydney friends.
“A lot of people have helped me out. That counter table,” he says, pointing to a beautiful wooden structure against the shop’s front window, “That was made by my friend, and he’s not even a builder – he works for a pool company.”
Watching customers visit the shop, prop themselves up at the counter and devour a white chocolate Matcha croissant or a Hokkaido cheese tart has been “moving”, Hashimoto says.
“When we first started, in the first week, every time a customer came in and bought our stuff, I’d almost cry. I can’t express my feelings, I’m tearing up now.”
Lead image credit: Azuki's Facebook.
Azuki is open Wednesday to Sunday, 9am-7pm.
3/63-71 Enmore Road, Newtown.