Thursday, August 02, 2018

Uncle Tetsu, Sydney

Japanese cheesecake.  Its a thing.  A rage in other parts of the world, where "famous" Japanese cheesecake shops are opening up, often with ridiculous lines, and limits on the number of items a single person can purchase (ohai, cronuts).  If you haven't had it before, expecting "cheesecake" like you know (Italian style, New York style, etc), will leave you confused and disappointed.  Instead, think of it as a lighter thing - less sweet, less rich, moist and fluffy ... almost more like a cheesy chiffon cake.  Or a souffle crossed with a cheesecake.  Usually served warm.  It really is a unique item.

Uncle Tetsu is a bakery that originated this style of cheesecake, back in the early 90s, in Japan (yes, by someone named Tetsushi).  It has spread dramatically from there, with 100+ shops outside Japan now, a strong foothold throughout Asia, now breaking into other regions as well.

The cheesecake is their signature item, but the product range now includes not only other styles of cheesecake (like the even loftier "Angel Hat"), but also cheesetarts, you know, the other ridiculous rage going on now in Asian style desserts.  And ... crepes stuffed with chunks of cheesecake and cream.  And puddings.  And little cakes.  And rusks.  And more and more.
#allTheThings
I did not try Uncle Tetsu's in Japan, however, they have a shop in Sydney, and, believe me, it was impossible not to notice it had opened.

The queues.  The large windows showing the slew of bakers in action, pumping out products all day long.  The aromas.  Yes, I noticed.

On past visits to Sydney, I wasn't ever really willing to wait in line.  Plus, uh, they had lots of staff out on the streets with samples of literally everything, every day.  I got to try it all, in reasonable portions!  It really was unique, but, not something I wanted to wait in line for.

But this past visit to Sydney, I needed to host an event for ~50 people, and I decided to introduce them all to Uncle Tetsu.  Bonus?  I'd get to try even more items!

The event was a success, and, it really was a new experience for most.  I still find it unique, but, not items that are at the top of my dessert list.

Japanese Cheesecake

"Our Cheesecakes are made with Australian cream cheese. Soft & fluffy world famous staple of everything Uncle Tetsu."
Cheesecakes are available in 2 main styles, classic or Angel Hats.  The Angel Hats are loftier, fluffier creations, but both are much, much lighter and fluffier than "regular" cheesecake.

Angel Hats are designed to be served cold, while the cheesecakes are either warm or cold.

I ordered 4 types of cheesecake for my group, but I also have sampled others in the past.
Full Size Japanese Cheesecakes.
Classic cheesecake comes in 4 varieties: "Original Signature", "Choco", Matcha, and "Honey" (which has earl gray tea in it as well).

My notes from previous sampling said the matcha had "good matcha flavor" and the honey was "very fluffy compared to regular cheesecake, but not nearly as fluffy as the Angel Hat."
Boxed Original.
For my group, I ordered the two others: Original and Chocolate.
The original cheesecakes all come hot and fresh from the oven, boxed up in special boxes with instructions for storage.
Original Signature. $17.99.
"The Original Signature Japanese cheesecake is the soft & fluffy world famous staple of everything Uncle Tetsu."

The cheesecake does look pretty stunning, golden top, Uncle Tetsu logo.

It was fine.  Lighter, fluffier, no where near as rich nor cheesy as standard New York or Italian cheesecake.  A unique thing, but not something I find myself craving.
Boxed Chocolate.
The chocolate version comes in its own special box.  It too was hot and fresh.
Choco $17.99.
"Our soft & fluffy japanese Cheesecake takes on a nostalgic chocolate mousse flavour with the added 70% dark Belgian chocolate and cocoa powder."

It too was ... fine.  Slightly chocolately, not that intense.
Full Size Angel Hat.
The "Angel Hat" comes in the original flavor, matcha, and seasonal special.

My notes from trying it before said "This really was unlike any cheesecake I've ever seen before!  Soo light and fluffy ...  it doesn't even make sense!"

I noted that the chocolate version, a special at the time, was the "same fluffy texture, but I didn't like the chocolate as much, it was more like a fluffy chocolate mousse."
Angel Hat Boxes.
I eagerly ordered the original and seasonal mango apple for my group.

They are chilled items, and came in specialized taller boxes.
Angel Hat. $14.99.
"The only Uncle Tetsu Cheesecake with two kinds of cheese – cream cheese and grana padano – together with custard cream all mixed together makes a cheese cloud that melts in your mouth."

This was different from what I remembered, more savory.

I again loved the fluffy fluffy texture, but the savory, grana padano forward flavor was actually just a bit too much for me this time around.  Not sure why.

I tried it again later that evening, and again, just too cheesy.  But love the fluffy texture.
Monthly Special: Mango & Apple Mango Hat. (July)
The mango and apple was almost awesome.

I loved the fluffy texture.  I loved the mango flavor.  It wasn't savory.  But ... eh to the apple flavors.

My favorite of the cheesecakes I think, but not one I'd get again.

Cheesetarts

"Our ‘rich & creamy’ Cheesetarts are among the most loved baked goods we make. The Original Triple-baked Cheesetarts are velvety smooth with a touch of sour from cream cheese.

The base for our Cheesetarts is made from scratch in-house."
Cheesetarts come in 3 varieties: original, matcha, and a monthly special, available individually or as boxes.  Served warm, although I didn't have one immediately, so it was room temperature instead, and that worked fine.
Cheesetart Machine.
The cheesetart machine is where the majority of the action is all day long, where you can walk by and watch it filling little tart shells.
Original, Matcha, Taro Cheesetarts.
Cheesetarts are all individual size, and most commonly sold by the box, so they go through trays and trays of these every day.  Sold in original and matcha varieties, plus a monthly flavor that rotates.

I had tried the monthly special chocolate one before, and noted "the tart shell is fine but its a tart shell, meh.  The chocolate filling fine but uninteresting, kinda just a thick ganache."

Not the best review ever, but when the monthly special was taro on my next visit, I couldn't resist.
Monthly Special: Taro Cheesetart (July).
The monthly special for July was taro!  <3 taro.  I ordered this in an instant.

My review of the tart shell itself is no different from before.  Yup, its a tart shell.  Not too hard, actually softer, sweeter, and nicer than most tart shells to be honest, but, its still a tart shell, not something I'll ever go crazy about.

But the filling?  That I'd go crazy about.

It was quite good.  Super creamy taro pudding basically, with a firm top.  I actually really liked the texture change from top to bottom of the filling, from firmer to looser.  The taro flavor was strong enough to taste it over the cheeses.  Sweet, but not too sweet.

I really enjoyed the filling, just eating it as a pudding with a little spoon, and would gladly get another.  I wish they did more taro items, and, in particular, wish they did an actual taro pudding, because, um, I love pudding.

Pudding

The latest offering from Uncle Tetsu, introduced literally the week before I arrived, was pudding.  Oh, yes.
Japanesse Pudding Cups.
They only make 100 a day.  Very exclusive item!
Japanesse Pudding Cup. $3.90.
"Unique Japanese rich puddings made exclusively here in our special Japanese pudding oven!"

The pudding was ... ok.  It didn't really have a flavor to it, not vanilla, not cheese, just ... there.  The menu said vanilla bean, but I didn't really detect it.

The texture was interesting, Asian style for sure, almost like a tofu or almond jello pudding.  But, flavorless.

On the bottom of the pot was a layer of sweet syrup, slightly caramelized, "dark caramel", said the menu.

It was fine.  But really nothing special, not anything I even really wanted to finish.

Onigiri Crepes

Onigiri crepes are not one of the standard items carried by Uncle Tetsu, and I think maybe only offered in Sydney, and only at a side window off the front of the main store.

They are a fun hand held concept, a chunk of cheesecake, cream, and other fillings, wrapped in a fresh crepe.
Onigiri Crepe Menu.
Onigiri Crepes are available in 5 flavors: Original, Mixed Berry, Honey, Choco, and Matcha (or, if you dine in at Angel Garden, "Choco choco" and "Matcha matcha", with chocolate and matcha crepe crepes, respectively.).

These were introduced right when I visited last year, and Uncle Tetsu was giving out samples regularly, so I tried a few.

I noted back then that I really liked the cream inside, and the matcha "had decent flavor".  Those notes were enough to inspire me to finally order one.
Onigiri Crepes station.
The crepes are made on the side by a separate staff member, with their own dedicated register.  I found it odd that they weren't on offer at the main register at all, even though literally just a few feet away.  More exclusive, more lines, right?
Original Cheesecake Onigiri Crepe. $3.90.
"Original Cheesecake / Caramel Sauce."

I went for the original.

The crepe wrapper was good, soft, slightly sweet, pleasant enough. A nice edible wrapper.
Original Cheesecake Onigiri Crepe: Inside.
Inside was a simply a chunk of the original cheesecake, lots of cream, and a bit of sweet caramel.

I didn't really care for this this time.  The cream tasted off, not as delicious as I remembered from previous tries.  The caramel was nearly non-existant in mine.  And the cheesecake, fine, but I did find myself thinking it was all a bit odd ... I didn't really want a chunk of cheesecake in here.

Fun to try, interesting, but likely not something I'd get again.

Other

And then, there are more items, not quite as special seeming, so I didn't try them.
Rusks.
The rusks aren't even on the menu anywhere, but near the register were packaged containers of "double baked cheesecake rusks" ... perhaps what they do with the scraps?  Bake them off again to make crispy cookies, kinda like biscotti?
Madelines.
"Madeleines are Uncle Tetsu's favorite! Luscious and moist, this buttery cupcake literally melts in your mouth. Warm up this madeleine with microwave for 15 seconds to get the just-out-of-the-oven fluff."

Madelines come in 4 varieties: honey, choco, matcha, and orange, available in singles or boxes.  Not my thing at all, so I never had these, although they are one of their more popular items.
Uncle Tetsu’s Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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