|Written by Jiap des|
|Tuesday, 30 October 2007|
| With several thousands of Japanese expats and long stay visitors already present in Chiang Mai, the city is likely to attract more retired Japanese citizens to live here because of the existing Thai Immigration open door policy for senior Japanese citizens. Since the Japanese community has long been established here, it is like a second home here, and the year round pleasant climate is suitable for this charming elderly group. While Japanese lifestyles mushrooming all over Chiang Mai with ethnic restaurants, bars, bakeries, specialty and fashion clothing boutiques, and local supermarkets, there is an abundance of Japanese foods and products to attract Japanese clients.|
Here, “muantae.com” is presenting you with some "Japanese Lifestyle" insights for your future visit to Chiang Mai. They include Baan Bakery, Din Dee Tea House, Hatena Sake & Sochu, Bua Ban and Khao Tok. You can also read about Kitchen Hush, already in our Food Section.
"Jiap san, have you ever been to the best Japanese style bakery in Chiang Mai?”, one of my Japanese friends asked me. "Nope” was my reply. She continued that "I recommend you to try real Japanese style breads and pastries at Baan Bakery near Ruam Paed Hospital, I am sure you would love it." As a carbohydrate lover, a few days later I went to explore my new bakery. Upon entering the shop, I was warmly greeted by Nikom Tanava, the owner and pastry chef who was more than happy to explain about each bakery product. I discovered that Baan Bakery specialized in Japanese homemade breads and pastries but made no cakes.
The shop is tidy and clean, simply providing shelves of beautiful bakery products one side of the shop and 3 tables on the other for customers to enjoy freshly baked goods with coffee and tea.
During his 7 years of baking experience in Japan, Nikom, a friendly gentleman from Chiang Rai, explained that “it was not a bed of roses to become a pastry chef in Japan as it required plenty of drive, endeavour and patience.” Nikom began his bakery career at L’Ami du Pain Bakery in Shiga Prefecture but his duties involved mainly washing bakery utensils for one year, and from time to time he was assigned to help a pastry chef to prepare dough. As the bakery was struggling due to its rapid expansion of outlets, all the pastry chefs quit and Nikom was the only personnel left, so the western bakery owner taught him how to make breads and other baked products in one week. Nikom then began the tough working schedule as a pastry chef, which ran from 3 p.m. until 3 a.m. "I learnt how to make breads, all kinds of dough, Danish pastries, croissants, scones, sandwiches and sesame cookies. Working for L’Ami du Pain for another one year, he later resigned to join Vingt Sept Degres (27 C) Bakery in Kyoto as an assistant manager. Half a year later, Nikom had been promoted as a manager. After five years working there, Nikom decided to return to Thailand to enroll his son in school. Besides, it was difficult to start one’s own business in Japan.
Back in Chiang Mai, two years ago, Nikom and his Japanese wife Tomoko Wada were baking Japanese breads and pastries and sold them at Kulaphan Ville 9's Club House. They later opened this current shop which they named "Baan Bakery" on Suriyawong Road. Nikom noted that his clients are part of a niche clientele who prefer freshly baked products made from natural ingredients. They are comprised of 70% Japanese and the rest of the 30 % are Thais and westerners.
Nikom usually starts baking early in the morning in order to serve his clients in time for the store’s opening at 8 a.m. His best selling Japanese style pastries are Ang Pan (sweet red bean paste bun), Curry Pan (original pork curry stuffed in large bun) and Le Vain bread made from natural yeast. The freshness, tasty flavours and enticing aroma are some of the reasons for the uniqueness of Nikom’s baked products. Other items are croissants of 85 folds in plain and chocolate versions, Danish pastries of apple, blue berries, tuna, custard and almond, Raisin bread, French hard toast, sesame cookies, Galette cookies, bacon cheese, Bacon Epi, garlic bread, baguette bread and burger buns. Prices range from 10 baht to 50 baht a piece.
Hot drinks are served at 20 baht for hot tea and 30 baht for hot coffee while iced tea costs 25 to 35 baht a glass and iced coffee at 35 baht. The Japanese style cold drink (Hale's Blue Boy syrup with soda and ice topping with vanilla ice cream )called "Cream Soda "costs 45 baht. My recommendation goes to the Japanese style Curry Pan (hotly served at the bakery is a fun try). French style butter cookies called "Galette" and sesame cookies are good to take home along with any items of your own choice. However, I like Nikom's sandwich bread because it is soft and delicious with an appetizing smell. The Cream Soda also offers a soothing freshness on an unpleasant hot day.
Nikom provides home delivery to his regular clients living mostly in condominiums within the city area limit on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a minimum order of 150 baht per order. Apart from his excellent home baking style breads and pastries, Nikom's personality and mindful service are drawing his customers like a magnet to return regularly to his bakery.
One of Baan Bakery's real fans, Steve McCarty, an American customer and neighbour, commented to muantae.com that "I have been Nikom's customer from the days when he baked only 8 few items and his products are great and so clean. His French bread, cinnamon and apple pastries are excellent."