Imagine a cheesecake with no outer crust that’s super spongy and melt-in-your-mouth light. This is a Japanese cheesecake, aka a soufflé cheesecake.

“Compared to other kinds of cheesecake, like New York cheesecake or Basque burnt cheesecake, the soufflé Japanese cheesecake is more spongy,” says Akira Toyama, the baker behind Melbourne’s Only Cheesecake, which began delivering homemade cheesecakes around Melbourne during the pandemic. “It’s very soft.”

Japanese cheesecakes are so rare in Australia even Toyama doesn’t make them (Only Cheesecake focuses on Basque burnt cheesecakes). But that’s about to change. While famed Japanese brand LeTAO – which launched in the late ‘90s with just one store in Hokkaido – has been offering Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Gold Coast consumers its products online since 2021, it’s soon to launch its first physical Australian store in Melbourne in late September.

Never miss a Melbourne moment. Make sure you're subscribed to our newsletter today.


Considering Japanese cheesecake can be consumed both thawed and frozen – the former offering a classic, soft and creamy cheesecake texture, while the latter a refreshing, ice-cream-like texture ideal for warm weather - it couldn’t be better timing.

We asked Toyama to explain what makes this style of cheesecake so unique.

The beginning
Cheesecakes have been around in some form since antiquity, but the Japanese version is a modern invention.

“The soufflé cheesecake was first made in the ’60s,” says Toyama. Its inventor, chef Tomotaro Kuzuno, took inspiration from a quark-based German cheesecake called kasekuchen. “He went to Berlin on a trip and had a cheesecake there that inspired him to make the soufflé cheesecake,” says Toyama. “He just made his own recipe [which is] more fluffy and more spongy – like a chiffon cake.”

While it’s been popular in Japan for decades via hotspots such as Rikuro’s in Osaka, the soufflé-style cheesecake is only just starting to pop up on the radar of dessert-loving Australians.

“It’s hard to find that style of cheesecake here,” says Toyama. “I find cakes in Australia have lots of sugar, but the soufflé cheesecake has less sugar.”

The tricks behind its unique texture
In comparison to the dense, rich and creamy Basque and New York-style baked cheesecakes, the Japanese cheesecake is relatively reserved. Its real drawcard is its texture. In Japan, it’s referred to as “fuwa fuwa”, which means fluffy or airy, and it comes from a specific technique.

“The soufflé cheesecake has a totally different texture and flavour,” says Toyama. “[It’s] more like an egg and cream-cheese taste. With the Japanese soufflé cheesecake, we mix yolk and egg white separately. We make a meringue with egg white and sugar – that’s the most important thing to make it fluffy and give it softness.”

There are a few other key techniques.

“When it’s baking in the oven, it’s baked in hot water with a water bath,” says Toyama. “Then it’s baked for over one hour, which is a very long time compared to other cheesecakes. A Basque burnt cheesecake normally takes 25 minutes, [and] a New York-baked cheesecake is under one hour. But the Japanese soufflé cheesecake takes over an hour, and sometimes 90 minutes or even longer.”

The techniques put it on the more difficult end of the spectrum, particularly for home bakers.

“I would say it’s pretty hard to make compared to other cheesecakes,” says Toyama. “You need to make a good meringue with egg white and sugar, so it’s really hard.”

This story is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with LeTAO. The debut Australian LeTAO store will open at 238 Swanston Street, Melbourne on Thursday October 20, with stores in Sydney and Brisbane to follow. In the meantime, browse and order LeTAO Japanese cheesecakes online.