Accessible only by car or bicycle, architect Nakamura Yoshifumi elegantly rendered a building suitable to house an Artisan Breadmaker. Outside a small metal signboard sways with the breeze. A simple outline of a boulangére (baker) is cut out from the black signboard giving a visual clue of what goes on inside. Stacked firewood runs alongside the building’s walls as the smell of warm bread wafts through the air – tempting our senses. This will be one of the most out of the way bakeries you will find anywhere in the world. Given that bakeries usually require a steady flow of customers it seems a miracle that JIN Boulangerie can exist here. We were told they attract a lot of Japanese tourists in the summer and also supply the bread to Maccarina Restaurant. Their business was built on word of mouth and the quality of their crafted breads and pastries is their calling card.
Entering the interior of JIN Boulangerie is becomes immediately apparent – even for those challenged by French – that this is a French Boulangerie in all but aesthetics. The smell of toasted golden crusts and richly fragrant butter fills the senses. It is quite easy to lose control in here – everything looks like a must have. This helps explain the long distances domestic gourmands are willing to drive for a rare taste of food craftsmanship. In a country completely obsessed with food – as Japan is – this hard to find location asks a lot of their customer but somehow returns it in spades.
Rashi was trained in “Hôtel de Kaiser” at the Windsor Hotel Toya – itself known for its great bread as well as a stunning setting and refined hospitality. This is the hotel that hosted the G7 summit a few years back and also houses some of the great restaurants in Hokkaido including Michel Bras’ outpost restaurant. In opening his own place he took the process one step further and chose to bake in a wood fired oven. The Village of Makkari is an ideal location due to the water which flows from an underground source and the seasonal high-quality agricultural products grown.
Hard or crusty bread types on offer include 4 to 5 kinds including the signature round country bread. All breads undergo long fermentation which leads to complex crusts that are at once crispy and chewy. The bread interiors are a shiny, mocha hue with infinite bubbles, all seemingly a different size. Aromas are complex and flavors stand tall due to the subtle acidity rendered by the long fermentation. The quality of the flours, many of which are procured from Hokkaido itself, are outstanding. Even rarer is the bread made from wheat grown and harvested in the village of Makkari itself. This is part of a local project taken together with Maccarina Restaurant to support local farm production. This is rare bread even for a bread connoisseur.
Glossy amber croissants include three or four types including plain, currants and chocolate. These are more rustic than what you find in the metropolitan cities. Techniques are perhaps less refined here or perhaps the environment plays havoc with the proofing. None of this matters though once you have taken a bite. Delicate, crispy textures give way to a soft chewy interior and then the fun really starts. The butter used here has a fermented quality that extends far beyond what one normally tastes. One becomes lost quickly in this croissant’s poetry.
LOCATION & HOURS
ADDRESS: Hokkaido Abuta-gun Makkari village Sakuragawa 45-8
OPEN: 9:00 to 18:00