Brookline bakery provides Japanese-French fusion

The facade of the bakery and cafe building
Photo: Hillary Donnell

By Hillary Donnell
Staff Writer

The elegant, minimalist shopfront of the Japonaise Bakery & Cafe invites passersby to stop a moment and relax with a warm drink, pastry, or other treat. Located at 1020 Beacon Street in Brookline, the Japonaise Bakery & Cafe is only a brief walk away for most Simmons students.

The first Japonaise Bakery & Cafe was opened in Newton by Hiroko Sakan over 20 years ago and it is clearly an enduring local business. Sakan is a self-taught pastry chef who has opened two shops in Cambridge and Brookline. Her shop has even won a Best of Boston award for its African Queen Cake and has been featured on the Food Network and in the Boston Globe.

The outside seating is reminiscent of a stylish French cafe; inside is a cobbled-rock floor, a few decorative chairs and tables, and the scent of baking bread.

The cafe offers a wide variety of French and Japanese pastries and sweet treats, including bread, cakes, frozen yogurt, and ice cream mochi. The writer highly recommends ordering the shop’s melon pan, a delicious sugar-encrusted Japanese sweet bread, as well as the cake donuts and chocolate horns.

Those who are fans of more savory food items may enjoy the various meat-rolls and the curry donuts, though unfortunately the latter is not currently available at the Brookline location.

The Japonaise Bakery & Cafe also offers a small selection of Japanese groceries. Anyone looking for Japanese snacks, sodas, and instant food will not be disappointed by their inventory. It is also worth noting that the shop makes its own loaves of bread, which are also lovely.

One obvious downside is that it is unlikely that those with allergies or dietary restrictions, in particular gluten and nut allergies, could eat a large portion of the menu offerings. There are few to no menu items that are specifically listed as being allergy and gluten friendly.

The shop is open from 7:45 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Readers are encouraged to check out the menu online at