Sourdough has been Melbourne’s bread of choice for a while. But that’s changing. These days a number of challengers are nipping at its heels. Focaccia has time-travelled here from the ‘90s and big, flat fougasses are having a bit of a moment, too. But shokupan, the thickly cut pillow-soft Japanese milk bread, might just be the most popular of them all.

Maybe it’s because of Melbourne’s recent love affair with the katsu sando, the blockbuster Japanese sandwich that typically relies on shokupan. Or it could be because, during the pandemic, many of us realised that raising and nurturing a sourdough starter is actually far more difficult than it looks. (By contrast, baking a loaf of shokupan is much more user-friendly.) Or maybe it just has something to do with the fact that shokupan is just like a loaf of classic supermarket white bread – except far better-looking and better-tasting.

Many of Melbourne’s best Japanese cafes now bake their own loaves in-house, and plenty of bakeries are getting in on the shokupan action, too. Here are our favourites.

Related Pages
Best Bakeries in Melbourne
Best Katsu Sandos in Melbourne
Best Japanese Cafes in Melbourne

Bakemono

Cafe

This Japanese-inspired bakery is from the team behind Little Rogue just across the street. It sells whole loaves of shokupan, plus flaky almond-yuzu croissants, Danishes piled high with berries, and soft buns filled with cream cheese, then doused in garlic butter.

273 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Le Bajo

Cafe

At this Japanese cafe in a North Melbourne warehouse, almost everything revolves around fluffy, house-baked shokupan (which you can get to take away). You'll also find fried-chicken katsu sandos, teriyaki fries and airy sponge cake. It’s from one of the founders of Bali’s Potato Head Beach Club – and it shares a space with his impressive old-school car collection.

8-14 Howard Street, North Melbourne

Hibiki Future

Shop

During the pandemic, Japanese cafe Hibiki became well-known for its “iso sandos” – weekend-only sandos with different fillings each week. So it’s no wonder shokupan features heavily at Hibiki’s next-door sibling: the konbini-inspired Hibiki Future. Pick it up by the loaf here, and be sure to grab some pocky while you’re at it. The shokupan is baked by Brioche by Phillip exclusively for Hibiki.

1159 Toorak Road, Camberwell

Bench Coffee Co

Cafe

Bench has a sister venue, Saint Dreux, that’s dedicated exclusively to sandos, so you know the shokupan it sources has to be good. It’s baked fresh and available here. It sells out often, though, so make sure to pre-order here to avoid disappointment.

321 Little Collins Street, Melbourne

Hinoki Japanese Pantry

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On a street that’s already teeming with excellent Japanese eateries, Hinoki is an essential stop for those who want to recreate their favourite Japanese dishes at home (or takeaway some incredibly good sushi). You’ll find half loaves of the fluffy stuff here, perfect for your legit rendition of the katsu sando.

279 Smith Street, Fitzroy

Tokyo Hometown

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This sprawling Japanese supermarket in the CBD – next door to Hometown Asian Supermarket, which focuses on other Asian cuisines – has shokupan ready to go on its shelves.

1/440 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne