There are several shops and brands that I keep an eye on throughout the year as they release their new seasonal flavors. I’ve already mentioned Häagen-Dazs as one of them in a previous entry, and Starbucks Japan is another non-native company that offers unique Japanese creations depending on the season, such as this summer’s Yuzu Green Tea Frapuccino. In addition to retail brands and chains, most of the cafes and restaurants I love also have seasonal sections on their menus that change four to eight times a year to reflect the changing tastes of their clientele.
One of the shops that I follow is a bagel shop called Bagel & Bagel.
This morning’s breakfast: half a Caramel Pumpkin bagel w/ mascarpone & home ground sunflower seed butter, scrambled eggs, and half a sliced pear.
When I first moved to Tokyo I didn’t know about Bagel & Bagel, and suffered because of it. I used to love getting fresh bagels from places like Noah’s Bagels back when I lived in San Francisco, and they were near the top of my list of missed items during my first year living in Japan.
Bagel & Bagel is awesome not only because they make fresh, relatively healthy bagels that aren’t the size of your head and have several convenient locations around Tokyo, but also because of the flavors they make. In addition to their set menu of about a dozen or so different bagels, they also offer a special monthly bagel, and an ever-changing array of premium weekly bagels.
The premium bagels are very Japanese, and usually consist of one of the bagels from the regular menu with some kind of topping piped on it or in the hole. I usually don’t bother with these unless they have a particularly appealing combination going on. But I -always- make sure to try out the monthly bagel.
Last month’s Golden Apple Cinnamon bagel w/ cashew butter & mascarpone, and a kefir smoothie.
Originally I just tried to remember to stop by at the beginning of the month to check out what was there, but in the last year or so I have gotten into the habit of stopping by a nearby Bagel & Bagel stand about once a week and picking up 2 or 3 bagels for Eric and I to share throughout the week. I generally pick up a couple of savory bagels, such as Eric’s favorite Volcano bagel (which has cheese baked onto the top) or Potato Pepper, to use for his breakfast egg sandwiches during the week, and one of the sweeter bagels for us to split on the weekends.
This week, however, the monthly bagel was not the most exciting thing to happen when I stopped by the Bagel & Bagel counter in the basement of Lumine 1 in Shinjuku on my way home yesterday evening. Oh yes, I picked up the Caramel Pumpkin bagel to have for breakfast, as planned. But as I was doing so, a sign off to the corner caught my eye:
New! Everything Bagel
See, I almost always get the sweet or fruity bagels here in Tokyo. When I don’t get the monthly bagel I gravitate towards the ones like Cinnamon Raisin and Maple Walnuts and eat them slathered with home ground nut butters, cottage cheese, or mascarpone, but this was not always the case. In fact, before moving to Japan I mostly shunned sweet bagels. My bagels of choice back a home? Poppyseed, onion, or everything bagels with cream cheese.
Bagel & Bagel has a good balance of savory to sweet, but the closest to my favorite flavors is sesame. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sesame bagel and had one just last week. But it’s been a while since I last had the option of any of my old favorites.
I grabbed up the new bagel, dropped it and the other new flavor, Black Pepper, into my basket with the Caramel Pumpkin, and made a mad dash for home with just one thing on my mind:
Everything Bagel with a thick layer of cottage cheese, organic tomato, red onion, half an avocado, & spinach.
It was just as good as it looks, though I have to say that this is the first time that Japanese creamy cottage cheese (which is more similar to cream cheese than American cottage cheese) just didn’t quite cut it for me. Something about the everything bagel just screamed out for the real deal. I will definitely need to pick up some cream cheese before I go back for another one of these babies at Bagel & Bagel.
What’s your favorite way to eat a bagel? Do you prefer savory or sweet?