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Current Waseda student opens cafe!
Delivering deliciousness and happiness, one customer at a time

Yukina Hirai

Located a five minute walk from the Waseda Campus along Waseda-dori, the Foru Cafe is Japan's first brulee French toast specialist restaurant. It is a tiny cafe with just 14 seats. The shop offers French toast which has been bruleed, a word which means “to burn" in French. Take a bite and you will experience a crispy, caramelized surface and a delicate interior that melts like pudding in your mouth.

The fashionable and girly décor of the Foru Cafe draws the eye. The cafe also offers meal-style French toast dishes made without sugar.

“Although there are many delicious foods in the world, I believe that the texture is what is important to really leaving an impression. I hunted for the right ingredients and researched appaleil (liquid batter) mixtures to soak the bread in until I was satisfied. When a customer says it's delicious, I'm so happy I could skip," says Yukina Hirai with a smile. A current Waseda student, she runs the Foru Cafe as its manager.

At any rate, Hirai has always liked to eat. Starting with a part-time job at a popular pancake restaurant chain after entering university, she instantly became captivated with cooking. In her second year she made the decision to travel to the main restaurant in Sidney to study. At first, she did not even know simple kitchen terminology, and even felt helpless on occasion, but she spent her days taking notes, reviewing cooking methods, and studying the language. Her efforts were recognized and before she knew it, she was entrusted to be an assistant in the development of new menu items. “Many times I experienced how food overcomes the barriers of language." Ultimately, it was the power of food which supported her through her troubles in a foreign country.

After returning to Japan, food changed from being her desire to how she defined herself. After working in catering and participating in a rental cafe once a month, Hirai felt the urge to take on the challenge of operating a business continuously and decided to start her own cafe. Everything moved quickly once the decision was made. In just under three months, she opened the cafe. “I felt that nothing would get started unless I moved. First I began by looking for a place and then I held interviews for staff, while at the same time gathering capital to open the cafe... In the end, about 20 people helped me."

It has now been six months since she opened her cafe last year. Going to classes and managing the cafe at the same time has been harder than Hirai expected. “The cafe opens at 11 a.m., so as soon as the first period finished at the campus, I have to start preparing for the day. Once, when one of my staff was unable to come in to work during exams, I spent several days working at the cafe in the afternoon and studying for tests in the evening, with practically no time for sleep." Thanks to her natural gumption and with help from her friends, however, Hirai has been able to overcome such difficulties. Hirai has also succeeded in keeping business on track and things are moving into the black, as well. Hirai, however, does not believe this positive trend will continue uninterrupted forever. She says with a laugh, “That's because I can't use the title of ‘female university student' forever. I want to keep doing this, partly to pay back my friends who've helped me, so I'd like to build it a café with a good impact on society."

Going forward, Hirai says she would like to make everyone happy through food-related things and not stop at the concept of a cafe, with such ideas as catering planned by Foru Cafe. Bringing smiles to people through her food. That is what makes Hirai the happiest.

Traveling abroad on the working holiday visa system to gain useful skills at a famous pancake restaurant in Sidney.

Messages from work friends when returning home to Japan.

The cafe's popular Blueberry Cheese Cake. It is garnished with rich ice cream and a pie crust cookie.

(Offered By:WASEDA WEEKLY)

Yukina Hirai
Fourth Year, School of Political Science and Economics

Originally from Hiroshima Prefecture, Yukina Hirai graduated from Hiroshima University Attached High School. She is the manager of Foru Cafe, a shop which specializes in brulee French toast. The name is derived from the phrase “for u" (for you). As part of her hobby, marathons, she has run full marathons in Honolulu and Sidney.