Aji WOW: Rikuro no Ojisan cheesecake
Aji WOW is my series of unusual Japanese food/drink reviews. 'Aji' (味) means 'flavour', and the name's also a pun on 'ajiwau' (味わう) - 'to enjoy the taste of'.
This time: baked cheesecake from Rikuro no Ojisan.
The name ('Uncle Rikuro') is a very famous one in the Osaka/Kansai area. Their cheesecake is the main draw, but honestly everything they make is popular. Pudding, banana and pudding cake, matcha cake, apple pie... As of 2020, they're even on Uber Eats for cheesecake by bike.
(One other fun thing you can buy at Rikuro is their cake roll. It's called the Rik-roll. I laughed. People around me thought I was some crazy woman who laughs at cake.)
There's a branch of Rikuro no Ojisan in Namba, on the Ebisubashi shopping street between Nankai Namba station and the Dotonbori. One of 9 shops in Kansai, including one at Shin-Osaka station (just before you get on the shinkansen). When I made a split-second choice to buy a Rikuro cheesecake there one warm evening, the queue was like this:
And that's at 9pm on a Saturday night. Walk by any time the shop's open and it'll look pretty similar. The only time I've ever seen that branch of Rikuro open without a line outside was during Covid-19 when there were no tourists around.
Fresh cheesecakes were wobbling off the production line at the speed of light. They had to be quick - someone in front of me ordered a whole batch of 6. Any prospect of getting 2 went out the window, and the guy behind me looked incensed. How dare anyone be so opportunistic when it comes to dessert? So I stuck with a single cheesecake.
I bounded home with my prize pudding, ready to review this for you straight away. Striking while the cheesecake is hot, as you might say.
And then I bumped into some friends at the door to my apartment building, stopped to chat, and those foody plans went straight to hell. As did my cheesecake.
The 'just-baked' look is rounded, bouncy, soft and super light. After a night in the fridge, my cheesecake looked more like I just hoiked it out of a hot bath.
Wrinkly, like a proper old uncle who spent his evening at a local sento. But I gave it a try anyway. It's what's on the inside that counts, right?
The texture is very light, as is the flavour. It doesn't feel too rich, or difficult to chew. It'd be easy to eat a whole cake in one go. Maybe.
So, by that 'maybe' I mean 'maybe if it tasted a bit less egg-y'. Yes, I know there's meant to be egg in a cheesecake. But, given the name, when the main flavour in a plain cheesecake isn't the cheese that's concerning. The taste of the Rikuro version is just bordering on scrambled egg. It's not overly sweet. If it wasn't for the raisins, you might confuse it for a flan... or a really boring and empty quiche.
I was regretting not eating some of this back when it was still warm - it might've been more like a crepe, or a super thick pancake. Luckily I didn't have to go back and fetch another cake. The box suggested popping chilled slices into the microwave for 20-30 seconds.
That's a decent slice... but as you can see, I'd barely made a dent in the thing.
I don't know exactly how many people it's meant to feed, but a Rikuro no Ojisan cheesecake is something in the region of 1,400 calories.
Don't worry, you can't really taste them. With other cheesecakes, from the first thick bite you can feel the extra kilos sliding towards your hips. This is so fluffy and 'not rich' that 1,400 calories feels unreasonably heavy. Like eating an Aero and pretending it's only half the chocolate 'cause the air bubbles don't count...
Verdict: 7/10, mostly good, but the egg is over-egged.