I’m dreaming of bagels. Plain bagels toasted with butter, poppy seed bagels sliced with jelly, sesame seed bagel cold cut sandwiches, cinnamon sugar bagels toasted with cream cheese. Too bad I live in the small (less than 900,000 people) city of Niigata on the Sea of Japan Coast, right? Not so! Niigata has one of the few privately owned and operated (true New York style that) bagel stores in Japan: Bridge New York Coffee and Bagels.
The bagels started out as a small extra feature available to the students of Bridge English School and grew into a small café serving coffee, tea, cookies and other sweets. The “New York” in the name is not a marketing gimmick. The bagels are baked fresh everyday by the wife of the Bridge English School’s owner. She has perfected the recipe and technique steadily over the last year and a half or so. I’m from New York and I remember fondly what a bagel is supposed to feel and taste like. Bridge New York’s bagels delivered. All the usual varieties of bagels are there: plain (slice, toast and add butter), blueberry (fine by itself but better with cream cheese), pumpernickel (for those pumpernickel fans out there), and of course cinnamon raisin or cinnamon sugar (best enjoyed toasted with cream cheese). Apart from the usual suspects there are also some bagels unique to Bridge and indeed to Japan: tomato and basil (add cheese, toast, and it makes a delicious sauceless pizza), chocolate (fine as it is), caramel (sounds tasty), mixed seed, edamame, corn, multi-grain and more. Don’t worry about paying New York premiums for your bagels either, they’re ¥195 each when they're fresh. Day olds, if there are any left at the end of the day, sell for ¥100 each! I cleaned the sale basket of my favorite bagel varieties on my last visit, and I'll do it again soon.
Authentic New York bagels can be found in Niigata. Looking for something? If it can be found in Japan, you can find it on JapanTravel.com.