Full of Eastern Promise: Soboro Bakery, Cambridge

Soboro Bakery made its world debut in the UK two months ago at The Lion Yard Shopping Centre, Cambridge.

The operation is part of Japanese food chain Wasabi, which runs more than 50 restaurants and sushi bars. Wasabi already has two outlets in Cambridge and was confident there would be a market for Japanese and Korean baked food in the city.

“We’ve known for some time that Japanese and Korean baking is some of the best in the world and we’ve also known the British public is welcoming and adventurous when it comes to new styles of food, so it seemed the right time to introduce Soboro to the UK,” says Soboro marketing head Anthony Eadon.

“Cambridge’s proximity to London is an advantage. It has a strong foodie community, a vibrant tourist scene, and, of course, thousands of students who are always happy to try new things.”

Soboro, which is named after a Korean bun, offers a range of Japanese and Korean delicacies and a selection of British favourites.

Made fresh every day by a team of patissiers and bakers, the line-up includes best-sellers chicken curry doughnuts, azuki bean buns, chicken katsu sandwiches and matcha tarts.

“Some items on our menu will be familiar to most customers, but, of course, with a Korean and Japanese twist,” explains Eadon.

“For example, our chicken katsu sandwich is a delicious advance on your average chicken sandwich; and our matcha tart is very unusual for a high street bakery but they’re flying off the shelves in Cambridge.”

The bakery’s equipment includes a Rondostar Eco Pastry Laminator and a Hobart mixer.  

The site was designed by Japanese interior architecture firm Doyle Collection in collaboration with Dong Hyun Kim, who founded Wasabi in 2003. The wood-panelled bakery offers customers a place to relax and has an extensive grab-and-go area.

“From day one, the atmosphere at Soboro has been welcoming, with a relaxed and calming element,” Eadon adds. “The seating area is contained, so customers can take a break with their food, but we also wanted a fast-paced takeaway area that works well.”

Kim started in Camden market and ran several stalls before setting up Wasabi. He has since built the business up to 53 sites across the UK and US. There are also hopes to expand Soboro in the UK and overseas, but the business first wants to see how the site in Cambridge fares.

Soboro Bakery, Cambridge

Who: Dong Hyun Kim, founder of Wasabi and Soboro Bakery. Born in South Korea, he spent time in London setting up European, British and Japanese stalls at Camden market, and then moving on to create Wasabi and now Soboro Bakery. The business operates 53 sites across the UK and the US.

What: The launch of Soboro Bakery. The 75-cover site serves Japanese and Korean baked goods, as well as some British favourites.

Where: 17-18 Petty Cury, The Lion Yard Shopping Centre, Cambridge, CB2 3NE

When: The bakery opened for business on 14 July 2017

Why: “Mr Kim is always coming up with new ideas and is always experimenting. He wanted to try something new and different.”

Baked in-store: “Our products such as pastries and croissants are baked every morning. We also have a kitchen downstairs at the site for preparing wraps and sandwiches.”

Matcha: “We’ve been surprised at how crazy people have been going for matcha. Nobody else in Cambridge offers it. If you offer something new, you are always going to attract attention.”

Interior design: “Our style is inspired by Wasabi. The fixtures and fittings were created by architect firm Doyle Collection in collaboration with Wasabi founder Dong Hyun Kim.”

Japanese twist: “Our food offer is very different. We’ve some traditional favourites, but people who come in for something familiar often leave with something they haven’t tried before.”

Logo: “We wanted to emphasise the unique offering of Japanese and Korean fusion with thought and personality. It has helped establish a distinctive brand identity which reflects our ethos.”

Dining experience: “The seating area is contained, so that customers can take a break with their food, but we also wanted to ensure we could have a fast-paced takeaway area.”

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