Asanoya Bakery: Killing Me Softly Roti
By KF Seetoh - Monday, Nov 17, 2014
His Ah Beng boss alter ego was the character that kept slapping his silly henchman over disputes about fishes and aquariums in his irritatingly funny and famous radio ads that touted Subaru cars. He also “enjoys” watching people agonise while they place a hand over his cars for up to four days, just so they can win one. As a regular Joe, he is natural fan of, and a corporate sponsor behind the lithe and sassy lasses on the pages of The New Paper New Face competitions.
“I just like doing different things” admits Glenn Tan, Executive Director of Tan Chong International, and he does not try too hard here. His latest gig is selling roti. Not just any roti, mind you, it’s the acclaimed 81 year old Asanoya brand that he has brought over from Japan. In land scarce Singapore, where the COE system makes not much commercial sense for car dealers, Glenn is not out to do anything different, just differently. “Our Tan Chong brand today is, all about lifestyle. Driving , living and eating well is one of our brand touch points”, adding that the “eating” part, is new. When asked, he revealed that the culinary space is one that they will “seriously venture into”. “Over the decades, we’ve built up a lot of partners and contacts in Japan and in the region. And when driving about in foreign lands, food always feature in those road trip adventures. It’s an experience”. So, to him, it was quite a natural progression into this F&B business. They are planning for more Asanoya outlets here.
About $1 million was spent on this venture with Asanoya, a chain brand that has its roots in Karuizawa in Japan, “my father knows the owners so, here we are today.” I pressed onto the “foodie” Glenn is and he coolly responded that it’s the softness and subtleties in the breads that he endears to.
One bite into their signature Karuizawa Blueberry Bread and I realised it is very easy to like. What’s not to like about a crusty, freshly bake loaf of berry bread- so soft and cloud fluffy inside with spots of berries inside and it’s so popular in Japan, they will also sell it by weight here ($2.60 per 100gms). I ate it on its own, no need for any of the jams they sell separately in the spanking bright , cheerful and huge café bakery. “They insist that they use every piece of equipment and ingredient from Japan. Fussy like anything. But, we are used to them, we’ve been handling the Subaru and Nissan car people for decades and it’s same same” Glenn submits, local style. Asanoya’s consultant from Japan, Kobayahsi Naomichi will be in the bakery till things are smooth and steady.
I fell for their Tea Bread ($4.20 a loaf), so soft, aromatic and infused with specks of earl Grey Tea leaves, and it beckons a cuppa kopi, which they offer at the café. But the simple “bao” looking Au Pan Chocolate ($2.80), was what surprised me- they buried half melted chocolate pellets inside and the nutty yet oozy chocolatey bite was such a delight.
The Maple Walnut Pretzel ($3.20) bread had a likeable, softly chewy and firm texture that was enlivened with sugared caramelised crust. This one felt like it needed some kopi-o.
I may sneak a jar of kaya in next time, to pair with the blueberry bread.
Asanoya Bakery Singapore
15 Queen Street, #01-03
Wilby Central Building
8am-10pm daily (from Nov 15th 2014)
Tel: 6703 8703