When I live abroad, there are lots of foods from home that I miss and really wish I could get hold of in Japan. Some things I go without for such a long time that I kind of forget about them, and when I remember about their existence I think ‘Oh yeah…those, I love those!’ How lucky that my remembering how much I love bagels coincided with discovering an amazing little bakery nearby that does awesome, authentic bagels just like the ones I used to eat at home. For anyone in Kumamoto with a similar desire for doughy goodness, get on down to OUT of STEP.
From central Kumamoto, a few stops on the tram down to Kawaramachi take you right to the doorstep of OUT of STEP. The area is a haven for artists – with cute winding alleys snaking through a bright little area that looks like an abandoned warehouse, there are lots of little independent shops that are so tiny they can barely fit more than one customer at a time. The spot is quiet and understated – a nice place to have a poke around and find some treasures, no doubt.
OUT of STEP is a small bakery with a couple of sofas in front if you fancy eating in, but mostly it operates as a takeaway business. With family photos on the vibrant blue walls, an array of plants out front and a scattering of books near the door (English and Japanese), it has a homey feel, like walking into someone’s living room. Ambient music and a guitar propped in the corner make for a chilled out, friendly vibem so it’s a great place to relax in if you do decide to eat in.
I love bagels, and here in Kumamoto they’re one of those things that you just can’t get anywhere else – when other places claim to sell ‘bagels’ what they tend to be offering usually turns out as little more than bagel-shaped bread. At OUT of STEP, the bagels are completely authentic and delicious.
As the bakery is quite small they don’t tend to have a lot of different things available at once, but the products change regularly and so you never quite know what will be on offer when you walk in the door.
The bagels are freshly baked, and while bagel purists will naturally go for the plain option (and why wouldn’t you, when they’re so good?) there are certainly other flavours that are worth trying out. Some examples of flavoured bagels on offer include pumpkin seed, sesame seed (ゴマ), pizza bagel (ピザベーグル), raisin (レーズン), cranberry (クランベリー), grain mix, very berry (ベーリベーグル) and dried fig bagel.
Priced at about ￥200 – ￥280 per bagel depending on the flavour, it’s a great deal and you’ll probably be tempted (like we were) to buy some extras to take home for the next day. Other hot and cold foods are available too depending on what the chef has cooked up that day.
You can turn your bagel into a sandwich with fillings like pastrami and cream cheese, ham and cheese or BLT, and you can have it as a set plate lunch with a salad too if you’re feeling particularly hungry. Just ask at the counter to see what fillings are available that day.
Home-baked cakes, cookies, shortbread and muffins are also available, as well as coffee (of course.)
OUT of STEP is open from 12 – 7 on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Location-wise it’s not right in the middle of the city, but it’s right next to the Kawaramachi tram stop. Since the Kumamoto earthquake, business has been slow and as OUT of STEP is a new business (open since 2015) it’s a great place to support the locals and try out – I promise that you won’t get better bagels anywhere else in town!