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Watch: Vancouver's first Japanese bagel shop now open downtown

Bagels are coming in hot lately, and now Vancouver has its own buzz-worthy spot for the beloved comfort food.

Bagels are coming in hot lately, and now Vancouver has its own buzz-worthy spot for the beloved comfort food.

Announced back in March, Wa-Bagel is described as a "Tokyo-meets-New York" concept, featuring sweet and savoury Japanese-style bagels that are chewy and airy.

The bold bagel venture comes from Aburi Restaurant Canada, the same Vancouver-based group behind popular spots Miku, Minami, and the forthcoming fine-dining concept Aburi Hana. Wa-Bagel is a sibling to Wa! Curry, the casual Japanese wagyu beef curry concept that slid in where its Gyoza Bar restaurant was on Pender Street in downtown Vancouver.

Wa-Bagel, which officially opens Sept. 13, offers a menu of sweet and savoury bagels made in-house by head baker Yukiko Iikura, who has a successful bagel shop of her own, Kepo Bagels, in her native Japan.

What the heck is a Japanese bagel, anyhow? According to Aburi, Wa-Bagel's "Japanese-style bagels are made with Canadian flour and unique techniques inherited from Japanese food culture. This gives the bagels a chewy and light consistency. Instead of mixing ingredients into the dough, they are instead rolled in, similar to rice balls or sushi rolls. This allows both the texture and the filling to shine through with each bite."

Wa-Bagel: What's on the menu?

The Wa-Bagel menu features just shy of a dozen bagel flavours, from $2 each, and seasonal offerings. Guests can order an "original" plain Wa-Bagel with a schmear of cream cheese in a variety of flavours, or toasted with butter, or can choose a filled bagel, such as the "Kinako" (filled with roasted soybean powder) or the Mochi Matcha (filled with mochi, red bean paste, and chopped walnuts). The result is a not-too-sweet bagel with a modest filling to dough ratio that is fun to pull apart and eat; these are definitely not the cream cheese stacked bagels you are used to ordering up at bagel shop counters. 

Iikura says the filled bagels are very popular with Japanese folks who are on the go; if you happen to be in a rush and can't finish your bagel, Wa Bagel offers instructions on how best to reheat their unique bagels at home. 

Lunchtime menu options include Wa-Bagel sandwiches, created with the Miku and Minami culinary team. Look for a "Pacific" bagel sandwich with shiso ume cream cheese, smoked sockeye salmon, pickled red onion, cured cucumber, shiso, and caper crisps, or the "Montreal" which has Montreal smoked meat, miso caramelized onions, and Japanese mustard aioli. 

You can also grab-and-go with some sushi items from Aburi's familiar line-up, and there are hot coffee beverages and cold drinks in the cooler. 

Wa-Bagel is located at 666 Burrard St, in the Park Place office tower and has taken over the space initially occupied by Tractor's innovative "Digital" take-out/pick-up only operation. The lower concourse level shop is accessible via stairs or elevator and a comfortable seating area is available right outside the shop or outdoors at street level.

Video: Tokyo meets New York at this new Japanese bagel shop in Vancouver

@forkingawesomevia Say WA?! 🥯 #forkingawesome #vancouverbc #bagels #bageltok #vancouverfood 🎙️@LindsayWR ♬ Cooking, bossa nova, adults, light(950693) - Kids Sound

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