By Pierre Antoine Klein (aka Pichuu)
Photos by Wesley Keppel-Henry
Updated April 28, 2021
Marumo is one of our favorite bakeries in all of Japan. If you’re in Sendai and craving hearty, real sourdough, it is the place to go. The owner, Mo-san, has a French apprentice whom he’s teaching the art of breadmaking—you’d expect it to be the other way around, right? His apprentice, Pierre Antoine, has kindly written an article for us about the bakery and the surprising story of how he came to work there.
First of all, I have to say, I think Marumo makes some of the best bread I have ever had in my life. And trust me, I've tried a lot. I never thought I would find myself working at a bakery in Japan. In fact, I had never even considered learning the art of baking. A French guy learning how to make bread from a Japanese man—it can only be a beautiful story. So this is how my Sendai sourdough adventure began.
It all started some years back when members of the Japanese collective Cinema Caravan visited my restaurant in Portugal. After a small Japanese event one weekend with them, a lasting friendship began. I worked with them at the Zushi Beach Film Festival in Kanagawa for two years.
Mo-san became friends with these same people while he was working and learning how to bake bread at the Paradise Alley bakery in Kamakura, near Zushi. So that’s how I got introduced to him. After a career as a hairstylist, Mo-san had decided to change everything and dedicate his life to baking.
With our trunk full of spring water and after brief encounters with wild animals in the deep night of Yamagata, we felt refreshed
Mo-san invited me to come north for a three-month winter job in Geto Kogen, Iwate. Over those winter months in Geto Kogen, a new friendship was forged and Mo-san asked me if I wanted to come work at Marumo bakery. As a big bread-lover, I didn't hesitate for a second.
After more than ten years of baking, it’s safe to say Mo-sans’s life change has been a success. I’m proud to be part of of it. I learn new things from him day after day. It’s easy to learn when you’re being taught by someone passionate. Mo-san is a passionate guy—sourdough passionate. He’s experimenting with new things every day, to get better, trying to get that perfect flavor.
I think I realized just how passionate Mo-san was when, after a long day of work, we drove out to a mountain in Yamagata Prefecture to collect spring water. Yes, Marumo’s bread is often made with spring water, not tap water! That’s him trying to push quality to the limit and that’s beautiful. With our trunk full of spring water and after brief encounters with wild animals in the deep night of Yamagata, we felt refreshed, ready to come back to the city and start another day of work.
Marumo bakery is not so easy to find, but once you do, you never forget. It’s located in Sendai Asaichi [lit. “Sendai Morning Market”], tucked between a small cafe and a seaweed seller, behind a vegetable stand. For a French cook, that’s kind of paradise, to have direct access to very fresh products as well as that smell of yakitate [lit. “just-baked”] bread in the morning. I wouldn't change it for the world.
Marumo makes some of the best bread I have ever had in my life
In this urban Japanese way of life where sometimes things can feel too fast, too shiny—artificial— Marumo is a kind of peaceful haven. Time moves slower here. Mo-san takes the time to chat with everyone who stops by. Some people come just to tell a joke; another comes for an hour or so to chat and get advice on their latest homebaking. There are no rules. Freedom and an open mind rule our little corner of the Asaichi.
So even if you're not a bread otaku, come by to say hi. You’ll get a good story or have good fun. But after seeing and smelling all of our beautiful bread, I’m pretty sure you'll find yourself wanting a taste of it too.
At Marumo, you can try all kinds of bread: from sweet to salty, soft to crusty. All of our breads are made with the sourdough technique. Some breads are on the menu year-round, like the cinnamon rolls (our bestseller), walnut bread (my personal favorite), and wholewheat bread. In addition, there is part of our menu that changes daily, according to the season, the mood of Mo-san and the preferences of our customers. Depending on the day, you’ll find focaccia, sandwiches, chocolate-banana bread, almond-date bread . . . the list goes on.
Hours: 7-ish in the morning until 5-ish in the evening
Closed days: Sundays, Mondays, & public holidays
Languages: Simple English OK
Takeout/Dine-in: Takeout only. Delivery is available by ordering through Marumo's online shop.
Access: 2-minute walk from Sendai Station