There's no shopping bag more de rigeur right now than the red and white carry bag from Uncle Tetsu's. Forget your fancy designer labels. The hottest accessory in Sydney will set you back just $18. This Japanese cheesecake shop has been inundated with queues as soon as it opened. For a cheesecake that has built its reputation in Japan on its use of Australian cream cheese, it's a neat circle of life that has finally seen it open up shop in Sydney over twenty years later.
Daily queues outside Uncle Tetsu's
Timing your visit is the trickiest part. The queues outside Uncle Tetsu have been non-stop. The good news is that after three weeks of production, the kitchen team is a picture of efficiency. At 9pm on a Saturday night, I was about 80th in the queue and only had to wait about 15 minutes until a carefully boxed cheesecake was in my hands.
Uncle Tetsu's first opened on Oyafuko Street in Fukuoka, Japan
Uncle Tetsu is Tetsushi Mizokami. He opened his first Uncle Tetsu shop in Fukuoka, Japan. Today there are more than 70 outlets around the world, including Taiwan, Canada and the United States.
View of staff preparing cheesecakes in the open kitchen
Sydney's store takes up prime street frontage along George Street within the Regent Place complex. As the snaking queue shuffles forward, the final stretch yields a tantalising view into the open kitchen, jammed with staff working at breakneck speed. Everyone has a specific job - folding boxes, tearing off baking paper from freshly baked cheesecakes, or branding the Uncle Tetsu logo onto the surface of each cheescake.
Japanese cheesecakes in the oven
The smell is incredible, like an enveloping hug of sugar, butter and eggs.
Sieving the honey madeleine batter
In addition to cheesecakes, you can also order honey madeleines, all made from scratch for your viewing pleasure.
Filling patty cases with honey madeleine batter
The honey madeleines aren't baked in the traditional French clamshell shape, but their patty pan shape does guarantee a larger serve than normal. And the signature bump is included.
Honey madeleines $15 for four
Fifteen dollars will net you a box of four honey madeleines. They're a little softer than traditional madeleines but they do warm up a treat in the microwave. The madeleines are distinctly soft and buttery, with a faint hint of honey sweetness.
Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake box
Let's be honest though. Everyone is here for the cheesecake. Demand has been so high that each customer is restricted to a single purchase. If you need more than one, you'll have to rope in a compliant - and patient - friend or two.
Uncle Tetsu's cheesecake $17.99
Each cheesecake is sheathed in protective paper. Unwrapping it feels like revealing a rare and fragile treasure. Even the holes in the box has been designed so the warm cheesecake doesn't create condensation within the box.
Inside Uncle Tetsu's cheesecake
Don't expect an American cheesecake flavour when you buy this. The classic Japanese cheesecake is a distinct variant, often known as cotton cheesecake because of its light and cotton-soft texture. Like many Japanese dishes, the flavour is subtle and elegant, and far removed from any concept of gluttonous excess.
Light and fluffy
Uncle Tetsu's cheesecake can be eaten either warm or cold. I refrigerated mine overnight and then tried a slice cold from the fridge and one warmed slightly in the microwave. When warmed, the cheesecake feels more like a souffle, with an eggy-ness that overtakes the flavour of cream cheese.
At 4C, the cheesecake takes on stronger vanilla notes, with a more noticeable - but still subtle - taste of cream cheese.
The texture is everything. It's like eating a fluffy cloud.
Uncle Tetsu's will be expanding its menu soon to include the rest of its signature products: the angel hat (a domed cheesecake), honey and cheese madeleines and honey cheesecakes.
Uncle Tetsu's Japanese Cheesecake
501 George Street, Sydney (Regent Place)
Open daily 11am-10pm
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8/07/2016 03:44:00 pm