A quiet stretch of California Street in Newton got a little brighter late last month with the opening of Koko Bakery, a 700-square-foot spot serving French, Japanese, and American sweets, savory Japanese-style rolls, and artisan breads. Lined up meticulously side by side in the pastry case, the flaky croissants, generously domed muffins, and soft, puffy buns reflect the passion and skill of owner Nobuko Maruyama and her two bakers. Maruyama, who has lived in the Boston area for 20 years, learned her craft at the Tokyo outpost of a large Japanese bakery before moving to the company’s headquarters in her hometown of Yokohama. She then moved here to work at Japonaise Bakery and Cafe in Brookline. Equipped with only high school English, she says, having Japanese colleagues at her first job in the United States made the transition to her new home much easier. She later worked at Boston Harbor Hotel and MIT catering. After a year-plus internship at Annarosa’s Bakery in Salisbury, followed by an advanced bread-making course at King Arthur Flour in Vermont, Maruyama decided to open her own shop. She searched for two years before finding the location, next to Sea to You Sushi. The cozy spot is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. 232L California Street, Newton, 617-483-5803, kokobread.com
Andrea Pyenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.