The snaking lines on George Street lead to five bright-red ovens pumping out airy Japanese cheesecakes with assembly-line precision.
Uncle Tetsu, a cheesecake brand with an extensive presence across Asia and with three stores in Canada, needs a machine-like operation of butter-cutters, egg-separators, meringue-whippers, oven-watchers and cheesecake-packers to meet demand in the takeaway only store.
The George Street location is the first in Australia, a long time coming for Tetsu’s founder and namesake Tetsushi Mizokami. At the time of opening, it was the biggest Tetsu kitchen in the world and features a team of 19 people at any given time.
After spending time in Tasmania as a student, Mizokami fell in love with Australian dairy and has used Australian cream cheese, milk and butter in his stores since the brand’s birth in the ’80s. The original cheesecake, circular with a toasted-brown top, is also famous for its lightness, achieved with egg-white meringue, which is whipped by hand.The top is branded with the Uncle Tetsu logo – a caricature-esque image of a smiling Tetsushi – while the cake is still hot. It’s handed over the small counter in a box and bag.
Honey madeleines are also available, and there are plans to release matcha and red-bean versions in the future. Two soft-serve flavours are also on offer: cheesecake and matcha.