In 2020, Gregorio Narvasa suspected cookies would be the next big sweet trend in Japan. In an effort to get out in front of it, he started experimenting with recipes. Early on, he’d reach out to friends on social media, who would come out to his home in Koenji in western Tokyo for taste tests.

“I’d meet up with people one on one,” the 45-year-old Narvasa says. “I’d talk to them about what I was trying to do, give them the cookies and then get their feedback later on.”

What started as a home-based baking project has transformed into a brand all its own called Monsta Sweets. After several years of sharing his creations at pop-up events scattered across Tokyo, he opened a physical bake shop in Koenji on April 20 of this year.