Pictures: Ed Blackthorne
If you’ve been in Jusco recently, you’ve probably noticed a long line of people at a strange little shop in the northeast corner. You might’ve looked at this line of people and wondered what they were all waiting for. After you realized it was cheesecake, you might’ve even thought to yourself, “Man, I gotta try some of that.” Well, we here at Qingdaonese have done the waiting for you, so that you don’t need to waste your time.
This exchange I had with one of my Japanese friends is pretty indicative of my overall feelings towards Uncle Tetsu:
Now, I won’t go so far as my friend and say that the ‘cheesecake’ at this Japanese chain is “not good,” but I will say that it certainly wasn’t worth the half hour that I spent on line to get it.
The cheesecake at Uncle Tetsu is best described as a lightly flavored, slightly creamy sponge cake. Like many Chinese pastries, it was kind of bland. If there is any cheese in these cakes, the flavor is undetectable. The strangely named Angel’s Hat Cake (since when do angels wear hats?) was a little bit better. This snowball of a cake had a slightly creamier texture, and just a touch more flavor. This was somewhat offset by the shape of the cake, which makes it difficult to cut. When I asked the cashier what the difference between the two cakes was, he said the Angel’s Wing cake was made from ice cream, but I detected little to no ice cream flavor or texture when I ate it.
For some reason, Uncle Tetsu is taking Asia by storm. Similarly long-lined branches have popped up in Taiwan, Singapore and Shanghai. These cheesecakes are so popular that a sign prominently displays the house rules: One cake per person. If you want two, you’ll have to bring a friend to wait in line with you (or stand in line twice). The only explanation I can think of for this particular phenomenon is that most Asians have never had good cheesecake and thus have no standard against which to measure Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecake. If you had never had good pizza in your life, I guess I couldn’t blame you if you thought that Pizza Hut was pretty good.
All in all, Uncle Tetsu cakes are not very expensive (both cakes cost 39 RMB, and one cake could potentially serve 8 slices, which averages out to about 5 RMB per slice – find me another slice of cheesecake in Qingdao, or anywhere in China for that matter, at such a low price). However, the lack of flavor and the long wait outbalance the price. If you want to be the hero at a Chinese party, show up with a few of these cakes – everyone will go crazy for it. Otherwise, it’s not worth the wait.
Uncle Tetsu (撤思叔叔起司蛋糕)
Located in the northeast corner of Aeon, directly adjacent to the supermarket.
Cheesecake (起司蛋糕) 39 元, Angel’s Hat Cake (天使的帽子) 39 元