Who Is Uncle Tetsu and why is he driving us crazy?
Uncle Tetsu. The man, the myth, the legend.
The past few weeks have brought a different kind of havoc to Sydney's George Street, one not involving jackhammers and poor choices made by Mike Baird. It takes the form of a light, slightly eggy Asian delicacy. The man behind it all?
If you don't consider yourself a foodie, chances are you won't have a clue WTF any of this means. Nor would you understand the excessive flock of foodie seagulls swooping for crumbs outside this humble shop front. I never turn down sweets, so I took the time (30 mins) to wait in line for a slice of this dessert craze, whilst being barricaded along the way and escorted by Tetsu staff through the stages of waiting.
According to Tetsushi Mizokami himself, the hero of the cheesecake is some top notch Aussie cream-cheese (just when I thought I was being cultured). He apparently really loves the stuff, which featured from the very first cheesecake baby in 1985 in the humble avenues of Hakata, Japan. Instagram is partly to blame for this cute little phenomenon tho, with a whopping 29,000 insta hashtags and check ins (and counting), not to mention those of us who don't bother joining the hashtag wave. I mean, in and of itself, the cake is not particularly Instagrammable but as we know, hype breeds hype and the rest is history.
In classic Japanese style, Tetsu's is neat, efficient and savvy. To help pass the extensive wait time, they've offered us mere cheesecake mortals a glimpse of the inside. The many tireless employees are on exhibition as they pass the cheesecake baton from egg-beaters to brand stampers, to boxers and cashiers. The sheer number of employees in that tiny space and the volume of cheesecake they pumped out between the group will leave you in awe. So if some performance art at the MCA ain't your thing, why don't you hit up the Tetsu's museum for a fun multi-sensory family outing.
They also have a one cheesecake per customer rule which kinda sucks for us hungry punters but they're all about sharing the love and stopping the scalpers, as opposed to me walking out of there with armfuls, which I did attempt to negotiate mind you.
In terms of the cake itself... look it was alright. My family wasn't fussed. To be fair, my Western palate has a major sweet bias, so naturally I was a bit underwhelmed by the mild, slightly eggy subtle flavour that characterizes this Japanese version. I was however taken aback by the incredibly airy texture, giving it an ethereal quality. As you cut through it's a real treat for the senses, like tossing the bubbles in a lush bubble bath, you can hear the bubbly goodness. It was basically sweet cheese foam, which was also slightly confronting at first.
Was it worth waiting in line for? Yes. I needed to see what all this fuss was about. Was it worth 18 dollars? Like idk, but I don't really have a choice do I? Would I go again? Probably not... but it definitely was worth trying at least once to cure my curiosity. I'd definitely be keen to try the other Japanese cheesecakes out there, to see whether it is Tetsu in particular who has captured the hearts of thousands? Or whether it's just the Japanese cheesecake in general? Which, I might add is probably not that big of a deal in Japan.
Like with Donald Trump and Jesus Christ, there are some hypes we just can't understand, Uncle Tetsu's is the same. One thing we know for sure though, is that this bite-sized craze ain't slowing down any time soon. So you'll be wading your way through hungry cheesecake fanatics to get to work in Sydney for a while longer.