By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Cheryl and Nobuyuki Nagai work in the kitchen making
up the many goodies they sell at Ne Ne Goose Bakery in Kailua.
Business is rising
at Kailua bakery
Ne Ne Goose Bakery's signatureBy Rod Ohira
mochi anpan and fresh bread
are popular specialties
MOST people don't go to Ne Ne Goose Bakery in Kailua for French bread, although Nobuyuki Nagai considers it to be his baking specialty.
"When I worked in France, they sold 2,000 baguettes and maybe two square loaves of bread a day," Nagai said. "But in Hawaii, people don't eat too much French bread."
The local demand is for Nagai's pastry items, especially his signature mochi anpan and breads such as the popular spinach loaf.
Ne Ne Goose Bakery, located next to the satellite city hall at Keolu Shopping Center in Kailua, has become a hot spot in Windward Oahu through word of mouth.
By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
The Ne Ne Goose Bakery in Kailua also makes animal shapes
out of bread. Customer Deenie Sampaio says Ne Ne Goose
Bakery's bread is "the best I've ever tasted."
"If you come late in the afternoon, like after 4 o'clock, there's hardly anything left," said Enchanted Lake resident Deenie Sampaio, who shops at Ne Ne Goose three or four times a week.
"The sandwiches are good, too, but they're gone by noon."
Sampaio raves about the bread.
"It's the best I've ever tasted," she said. "The dough is nice and soft.
"I also like the mochi anpan because guaranteed, the mochi in the middle is always soft and the an (red bean paste) is not hard.
"They also make this sweet potato tart and spinach potato roll that's good.
"You can't find anything like this on our side of the island except at this bakery."
Shigeko Asato of Kahaluu, a native of Okinawa, says Nagai bakes high-quality, fresh bread.
"The texture is different," Asato said. "American breads are kind of hollow.
"When you put (Nagai's) bread in the toaster, the outside comes out crispy; the inside is still moist. It costs a little more, but you expect to pay more for quality."
The mochi anpan is the top-selling pastry item.
When he and his wife, the former Cheryl Naito, opened their bakery in December 1995, Nagai says he baked only 20 mochi anpan a day for sale.
"Now we make 100 pieces a day and sometimes more," he said.
Nagai places red-bean paste into a sweet-roll dough and then puts in a small, round ball of mochi before closing the top. The mochi anpan then goes into the oven.
Nagai says the idea of combining mochi with anpan came to him from his working experience at Bunbundo Bookstore's salon.
"For one year I was making zenzai (red-bean mochi soup) at the salon, and I thought about it when I opened my bakery," Nagai said.
"That's when I got the idea to mix the two."
Nagai, 44, did not plan to be a baker while growing up in Osaka, Japan.
"I started out in architecture," he said, "but after eight years I wanted to do something else. I went to cooking school in Osaka because I like to eat.
"Then I went to study in France for three months. I learned how to make French bread there."
Nagai later came to Hawaii and worked for Saint-Germain Bakery for eight years and Fujipan of Hawaii for a year, learning to create what he calls "delicatessen items."
He met his wife at Tensho Kotai Jingu Kyo church in Kalihi.
Ne Ne Goose Bakery is a husband-wife operation, although Cheryl's parents, Gladys and Harold Naito, help out for a few hours daily.
The bakery is open 6 a.m.-4 p.m. every day except Wednesday, but Nobuyuki Nagai says it's a 15-hour workday for the couple. Their day off is spent shopping for supplies, his wife adds.
"At first, I thought it would be interesting to own your own business," said Cheryl Nagai, a former accounting firm secretary. "But when you face the real thing, it's hard work."
The Nagais believe the key to their success is offering quality baked goods and service.
"Location is also important," Nobuyuki Nagai said. "There's lots of parking here, and our house is two minutes away."