Uncle Tetsu: Is Authenticity a Vice?
Japanese cheesecakes were the most ubiquitous food trend of 2017, dominating social media channels for months on end. As with most trends, average Pakistanis were quicker to catch on the trend than restaurants were and several home bakers started selling their own renditions of jiggly cheesecakes. Recently, Scafe began serving up this peculiar confection as well as hosting classes for those hoping to learn how to make these for themselves. With the opening of the global franchise, Uncle Tetsu, two days ago, residents of Lahore had the chance to finally try out a purely authentic cheesecake. Turns out, Lahore is not impressed.
Uncle Tetsu Who?
Uncle Tetsu started out as a small bakery in Japan, in the early 1990s. Since then it has spread across 8 countries; with 70 outlets and plans for expansion. The bakery’s signature item is The Japanese Cheesecake and Uncle Tetsu can be accredited with introducing jiggly cheesecakes beyond Japan. The outlets are known for their warm, red and white interiors featuring open kitchens, which allow customers to see the desserts being made. Also on the menu are biscotti, madeleines, and cookies.
The brand enjoys cult popularity, with more than 100k followers on Instagram. Uncle Tetsu is a global phenomenon and with Lahore’s propensity for eating up fads like a bag of skittles, one would expect the franchise to do well. However, in less than two days of operation, Uncle Tetsu is being ripped apart on food forums, with only a handful of defenders.
Gather around, boys and girls. It’s time for me to speculate.
Unpopular Opinion Alert
Authentic Japanese cheesecakes were ruined for Pakistan long before the Uncle Tetsu franchise was a glimmer in the investor’s eyes. The immediate unpopularity is largely due to the authenticity of their recipe.
Lahore’s first taste of most cuisines is often an already-bastardized version, altered to suit a quintessentially Pakistani palate. The same is the case with Japanese cheesecakes. When the trend first began to pop up, home-bakers added ungodly amounts of gelatin and stiff-whipped egg whites to their normal cheesecake recipes, broke out the bain-marie’s, and became jiggly-cheesecake experts overnight.
Impressionable, and pig-headed in their self-assuredness, food forum admins marked these jiggly cheesecakes with stamps of approval. No way to truly establish yourself as a discerning food connoisseur than to be the first to champion anything new.
Customers probably walked into Uncle Tetsu jonesing for a cream-cheese, sugar-packed punch in the face and, upon receiving a subtle egg and sea-salt slap on the wrist, left unsatisfied.
What to Expect
From the initial impression, very few diners are impressed with Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecake, however, it is possible that other items on the menu might strike Lahore’s fancy. I expect that, with time, the recipe will undergo various revisions till it meets us halfway. A little more sugar, a little less egg. A few toppings and drizzles even. Maybe they’ll diversify into coffee, as most businesses trying to stay afloat in the market do. Or maybe Lahore will grow to enjoy the authentic Japenese cheesecake. Too soon to say but it’s a thought.