Wagashi Japanese Bakery has been supplying Yo! Sushi since the restaurant chain launched 15 years ago. Founder Harue Terry speaks to Neil Gerrard about the enduring partnership
How did you first get into making dorayaki [Japanese pancakes]?
Japanese confectionery, "wagashi", was my father's passion. He made it in Japan after the Second World War and, due to his arthritic fingers, made it larger than was standard - something that made him famous during those harsh times. After arriving in England at 22 years old, I followed in his footsteps and founded Wagashi Japanese Bakery.
You have been working with Yo! Sushi since it was founded in 1997. How did the relationship come about?
Since 1986 we've been supplying dorayaki, steamed cakes and ice-cream to individual restaurants and shops. When Yo! Sushi opened its first restaurant on Poland Street in London the head chef was a big fan of our products, and we have been supplying dorayaki ever since. Before that we'd produce around 1,500 dorayaki and 200 litres of ice-cream a week, alongside other products.
How did you cope?
A lot of hard work, helped by mutual respect between Yo! Sushi and ourselves. Yo! Sushi has been integral in helping our business grow, guaranteeing to honour our fantastic relationship, which has allowed me to invest in staff, equipment and facilities and really plan for the future.
How many portions of dorayaki do you produce for Yo! Sushi now?
We now produce over 400,000 portions of dorayaki every year. This year, we helped Yo! Sushi celebrate Pancake Day by making a limited edition run of 3,000 lemon custard dorayaki. Promoted via social media, Yo! Sushi gave the first customer who came into each restaurant and quoted "Mrs Dorayaki sent me" on 21 February, the chance to try it free.
Why do you think they are so popular?
Although some of the more exotic Japanese foods are a bit of an acquired taste to people in the West, dorayaki remain among the more delicious and accessible foods worldwide.
What are your hopes for the future of your business?
Yo! Sushi remains a great source of inspiration, and with its help we hope to expand our product line even further.