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The first thing a customer will say when they walk into Pelican past lunchtime is: “Any left?” That’s how fast loaves sell at this popular Asakusa bakery.

Many a time I’ve walked into Pelican — sorry, ran into Pelican — at 3 p.m. only to be told that there was nothing left. You don’t need to be told, though: The shop is an open book as far as inventory is concerned, consisting of little more than long wooden shelves and steel carts where loaves are left to cool after coming out of the oven. When those are empty, there’s nothing to do but suck it up and resolve to run like sprinter Yoshihide Kiryu the next time. The bread at Pelican is that good.

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