KUNON Baking Factory: Sweet and Stylish in Kitasuna
Published: January 21, 2020
In the quiet residential area of Kitasuna, just south of the renowned Sunamachi Ginza shopping street, a brand-new confectionery shop is proving a big hit with the locals. Kunon Baking Factory, managed by confectioner Ms. Ayano Kuno and jointly run with her sister Ms. Miki Kurihara, opened its doors in October 2019. On a recent afternoon I dropped in for a chat with the effervescent sisters and was able to sample their wonderful wares.
Located on a narrow road with Kiyosubashi Street to the south and Maruhachi Street to the east, Kunon Baking Factory may not be the easiest place for first-time visitors to find but it certainly meets all the requirements for a hidden gem. “I worked for several years in a job tangentially related to confectionery but I wasn’t actually making anything myself,” explained Ms. Kuno. “I became interested in making things as a sideline and received an order for icing cookies; after that I threw myself into studying the sweet arts. I decided I wanted to open my own place; our location here is my husband’s family house which we spent a year rebuilding and redesigning as a kitchen and shop. We finally opened late last year and so far, it’s been very busy!”
Potential customers should note that Kunon is only open for sales on Fridays and Saturdays. Ms. Kuno makes everything by hand and spends Monday to Thursday preparing, stocking up, studying, planning, and making the sweets to be sold later. “We have items that are always on sale, such as the madeleines, and others that are seasonal or depend on how I feel at the time,” she said, laughing. The madeleines come in seven varieties: plain, rum, macha, coffee, orange, berry, and passion fruit and coconut. Having tried one I can guarantee that they are great: crisp around the edges, delightfully buttery, sweet and airy inside. Very nice with your afternoon tea at just 170 yen each.
In contrast to the buttery lightness of the madeleines, the pecan brownies are a rich, dense, nutty chocolate dream. At 300 yen and definitely filling, one of these is perfect to tide you over until dinnertime.
“I’m a great fan of British-style spicy biscuits made with ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and so on,” explains Ms. Kuno. These cardamom biscuits are made with whole wheat flour and cost 240 yen for five. “I want to make slightly unusual, original, and spicy things,” she says, “not your run of the mill confectionery.”
While these Chai cookies are 210 yen for a set of three.
For those who prefer something zesty there are these scrumptious-looking lemon sable biscuits made with Seto Inland Sea lemon jam and topped with lemon icing. The fluffy lemon cakes are made with lemon peel and topped with white chocolate icing.
In fact, Ms. Kuno is a dab hand at icing and Royal icing in particular.
“I’m very interested in the German gingerbread houses, known as Hexen Haus,” she explains.
There’s a wide selection of other cookies and biscuits available such as florentines, anise snowballs, galettes, and macadamia nut cookies.
The pound cake at Kunon Baking factory really is pound cake. Rich, moist, and heavy, it makes a great dessert or an afternoon snack for the rather esurient. On the left is a green tea and garbanzo cake with cream cheese icing, while the one on the right features fig, apricot, prune, and pineapple. Costing between 270 and 320 yen, a variety are available depending on the season and Ms. Kuno’s mood!
Stepping up to full cakes and baked tarts, this premium carrot cake looks absolutely delicious. Made with cranberries and four spices (ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon) it weighs in at 380 yen a slice.
On the left is Hummingbird cake, a remarkable concoction from the deep south of the United States. Made with mashed bananas, pineapple and pecans, it’s a super moist high-calorie delight that will have you humming with pleasure. Hence the name!
Ms. Kuno also makes tarts using seasonal fruits. On the left is a sweet potato crumble tart and a chestnut version on the right. Seasonal strawberries will be featuring more prominently, although Ms. Kuno hadn’t decided in what form yet.
Kunon also offers a variety of selection boxes in small, medium and large sizes.
Ms. Kuno can select a variety of biscuits and cookies depending on the customer’s individual tastes.
There are cookies boxes, madeleine boxes or a selection for those who prefer a more chocolatey selection. Whatever your taste, there’s something to suit it at Kunon Baking Factory.
As we spoke, a steady stream of customers popped up to the window and the display case slowly emptied as time passed. “These are really good,” one smiling regular customer commented as she picked up an afternoon treat for her homeward bound junior school daughter. “We want to become part of the local community,” said Ms. Kuno. “We discuss our products with the customers and will make something to order for them. If you’re in the area please pop in and if you know of some interesting confections please let us know.” If you’re a local resident or just passing by, why not drop in, treat yourself and share a favourite recipe with Ms. Kuno and Ms. Kurihara!
Story and some photographs by Stephen Spencer