bagels

Wasabi and sashimi bagels on sale now in Japan! We buy some and invent the Japanese dip sandwich

I’ve never been much of a bagel fan. It’s got nothing to do with a dislike of carbs, as I’ll happily chow down on sandwiches, rice bowls, and noodles. Bagels, though, have always struck me as sort of bland.

Sure, I realize there are ways to make bagels more flavorful, but a lot of the most common additions, like berries or cream cheese, don’t really do much for me. But when I found out that one of Japan’s most popular bagel chains was adding a kick to their offerings with a wasabi bagel, my interest was piqued. Then, when I learned that they also offered a bagel sandwich with tuna sashimi, my next meal was planned.

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Seaweed and soy beans and mushrooms, oh my! New Japanese-style bagels coming soon

Mm, bagels. The quintessential morning staple, best hot and crunchy out of the toaster with a generous slathering of cream cheese and a nice hot cuppa.

Thankfully Japan is no stranger to these bread-y rings of goodness, so it isn’t difficult to get one’s bagel fix should the craving strike. The well-known chain BAGEL & BAGEL has been serving up the good stuff since their first store opened in Shinjuku in 1997, and now has about 70 locations open throughout Japan.

While foreign cuisine can be found in abundance here nowadays, from pizza and pasta to Indian curry and naan, creative chefs in Japan will often take these foods and make it uniquely their own. (Potato-and-mayo pizza, anyone?) Bagels are no exception, and starting December 26, BAGEL & BAGEL will be rolling out a line of very Japanese-style bagels, including such “Wa” (Japanese) ingredients as seaweed and edamame.

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Awesome treehouse café in Yokohama satisfies our longing for bagels, beer, and nature

Not too long ago, I ate ramen from a can on a Tokyo backstreet. It didn’t taste half-bad, but between the barkers for maid cafes and the homeless guy raiding the surrounding vending machines’ recycling bins for cans, it really didn’t make for the most elegant dining ambience.

But the great thing about Japan is the contrasting extremes you can find, and if eating in the middle of Tokyo’s concrete jungle by the soft glow of neon signs isn’t to your liking, you can always come on down to Yokohama, which has a café with plenty of natural sunlight thanks to the restaurant actually being an awesome treehouse.

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Watermelon bagels arrive in Japan, then in our bellies【Taste test】

There’s a lot that I love about summer. The additional hours of daylight, awesome fireworks festivals, and the chance to wear a summer kimono are all big plusses in my book.

Still, even I have to admit Japan can get uncomfortably hot at this time of year. A cold beer or cup of sake are both refreshing ways of beating the heat, but there are times when chilled alcohol isn’t an option, such as when I have non-drinking related work to do and/or am already hung-over.

So in order to stay both sober and cool, I eat as much watermelon as I can every summer. And while I don’t think Japanese chain Bagel & Bagel designed their new watermelon bagel just for me, I figured I’m still in the target demographic, and decided to try it out.

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