Miyoshikai Gourmet Tour - Part 6 - Bunmeido Cafe
Today we shine a light on the first cafe to appear in this series, Bunmeido, a Nihombashi institution in its own right. As it happens Bunmeido might need no introduction as it is something of a household name in Japan, its perennially popular castella cake sold all over Japan at its numerous sister locations and shops, and its adorable television commercials featuring its cute bear mascot a favourite since the 1960s. Its flagship however is in the heart of Nihombashi, so for a taste of the Bunmeido experience that originally entranced Japan make this your destination the next time you have a sweet tooth.
Although Bunmeido can boast over 100 years of history to its name, its origins stretch deep into Japanese history. It grew out of early interactions with Portuguese traders from the sixteenth century, with the port town of Nagasaki's trade in sugar, at the time a novelty. The advent of sugar gave way to a boom in baked confectionary, with Western recipes quickly tailored to Japanese tastes. In the midst of this era of experimentation castella was born, originally inspired by a Western sponge, but over time quickly morphing into a Japanese treat with the addition of mizuame, a Japanese sweetener, with a distinctly Japanese taste. This was to be Bunmeido's signature dish spreading from its Nagasaki factory and even finding an audience with the Imperial Family. With the formal foundation of Bunmeido in 1900, they began to experiment creating iterations inspired by other confectionary from abroad, but also mixing in matcha and other Japanese ingredients.
Present day Bunmeido in Nihombashi continues this history with diverse menus, at times making French toast with their succulent signature castella and at others add a splash of Japanese nihonshu wine to make for a beautifully aromatic pancake mix which is then served with green tea ice-cream and sweet red bean paste. Beyond sweets the cafe also boasts a full lunch and dinner menu, again taking a youshoku, Japanese-Western fusion approach to its cuisine that extends to its bar menu, fusing Japanese ingredients in Western-style cocktails and then serving them in Japanese artisanal Kiriko cut glasses.
The chic setting echoes the menu offering views of traditional Japanese gardens from comfy sofa or Western seating, and is consistently lively as morning coffee gives way to the lunch service, followed by afternoon tea and well into the evening as the bar takes over. In addition to the cafe there is also a shop for those on the hunt for those looking to take Bunmeido's many signature treats home, with many unique to the Nihombashi flagship.
Miyoshikai Groumet Map
Bunmeido Café Nihombashi