Tucked Away : Sugar Addiction on the Rise at 68 Jay

Text by Dale Kaplan
Photography by Philip Greenberg

Elephant ears, chocolate biscuits, and green tea sesame have become the nomenclature of trend in 68 Jay Street. On street level, but not on the street, this outside in Japanese pastry shop, Burrow, is absolute bliss.

The sparkling white walls, black and white tiled floor, and the use of all natural materials from the wood signage to the perfectly styled linen aprons create a gentle and warm atmosphere for your morning or afternoon treat.

Ayako Kurokawa, the master pastry chef and co-owner of Burrow grew up in the Japanese fishing village, Wakkanai. Born into an entrepreneurial family, her father owned and operated a crab importing business.

With a longing to escape rural life, and a desire to experience urban living, 18 year old Ayako and her best friend Chisato boarded a plane to New York City. Funds were tight, and for the first few months the duo lived primarily on bagels …sesame, garlic, everything, plain and pumpernickel, toasted, and non toasted, with and without a schmear.

“Everything was so big, so oversized. The big scenery, the big buildings, the high ceilings and the big personalities were a shock to my system. “Japanese people tend to be quiet and shy,. People in the street were always yelling at me… you have to smile.” Ayako recollected.

“Although Ayako did not come to New York to become a pastry chef, fate and talent led her in that direction.”​

Her first job in New York was at Japanese style deli. The pastry chef took the young Ayako under her wing and taught her the basics.

As her skills developed, she became an assistant pastry chef at MOMA working for the prestigious restaurant THE MODERN. “ It is here where I learned to work on a line of 20 bakers which was an invaluable experience” says Ayako.

She later left MOMA for the Plaza Hotel. Working at the Plaza made her feel like a real New Yorker. “I adored going to work there. I found the interior of the Oak Room magical. I felt like a part of New York history. I loved coming to work on 59th street, and walking through Central Park every single day”

Eventually, Ayako decided to try and make it on her own. While working at the Plaza she had her eye on her current space in the lobby at 68 Jay Street. At that time, it was occupied by a bakery called ”The Best Chocolate Cake in the World. Unfortunately this particular confection could not live up to its name and the owners decided to close the business and go into hair removal services.

The space was perfect and the price was right. Ayako and her husband and partner Waturo took the plunge.

For 18 months, the bakery was exclusively wholesale. Ayako catered parties, events and designed custom pastries and cakes for editorial photo shoots. Her specialty was portrait cookies. Before she transitioned to retail, a cookie with Al Gore’s face hung in the bakery’s curtained off window, providing 68 tenants with a mystery to ponder while waiting for the elevator.

Fortunately, Ayako’s best friend and biggest fan, Chisato was relentless in suggesting that her BFF convert the front of the space into a retail establishment. To the delight of DUMBO, Burrow was born.

Burrow,’s French style pastries served within a Japanese inspired environment is a favorite to all in 68 Jay and beyond. Ayako explains that the old Japanese pastry masters studied in France which explains the striking similarities.

Asked what she likes best about being in Dumbo, Ayako’s answer is absolutely endearing. “The people are really nice, when I come out from the kitchen to see what is happening in the bakery, I am touched to see long lines of people waiting patiently for my pastries. No matter how long the wait, they are never rude or grouchy.”

Her best seller is the chocolate cookie with toffee. My personal favorite is Gateau Basque which Ayako informed me is the absolute favorite among pasty chefs. However, whatever you select, one thing is sure, you will be back tomorrow.

68 Jay St.
Brooklyn, NY. 11201
(718) 377-9865
Hours of Operation
M–F: 10am to 4pm
Sa–Su: Closed