If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting Japan, you’ll notice that if there’s one thing that people are willing to line up for, it’s good food. Be it chewy udon noodles, fluffy shokupan, or crispy gyoza, if it’s good there’s going to be a line. We’ve joined many lines in Tokyo and the results were almost always out of this world.
Promised to be one of the greatest cheesecakes in Tokyo is Mr. Cheesecake. Mr. Cheesecake is touted as Tokyo’s most elusive and exclusive cheesecake. Ironically, there are no lines…but only because they don’t have a physical store. The creamy rectangular shaped cheesecakes are sold online for just two days a week and sell out in minutes. Japanese food fanatics have started calling it the phantom cheesecake. Even if you do manage to be one of the lucky ones who get to purchase a cheesecake, you can’t choose the date or time of delivery.
Behind Mr. Cheesecake is chef Koji Tamura. His cheesecakes are made with an indulgent combination of cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, yogurt, tonka beans (a super fragrant bean with warming flavors like vanilla, cherry, almond, and cinnamon), white chocolate, vanilla beans, and lemon. The result is an incredibly creamy yet light cheesecake that’s reminiscent of Basque cheesecake, but much more delicate. Tamara recommends having it three ways: frozen, straight from the fridge, and at room temperature. The different temperatures affect the taste and texture.
Unfortunately we never had the chance to order a Mr. Cheesecake while in Tokyo, but luckily chef Tamura released an official recipe online in light of Covid. The recipe, while having several different steps, is really simple to execute. And the result is delicious: super creamy, super luscious, lightly sweetened, tangy cheesecake.
I made the cheesecake twice, once in a regular loaf pan and once in a mini pan. I didn’t quite get the height that I wanted in the regular size loaf pan or in the mini, so I suspect that they must use a Japanese standard size. Nonetheless, I love this cheesecake. I froze some for the sake of doing three side-by-side taste tests.
The frozen cheesecake from the fridge had a firm frozen custardy texture with the lemon really shining through. From the fridge the cheesecake had that classic melt in your mouth texture with a hint of vanilla and balance of sweetness. Room temp was my favorite with a melty almost creamy middle that was velvety and soft, almost reminiscent of a creme brûlée but cheesecake-y and a bit more firm.
Hope you get a chance to try this cheesecake out! It’s the easiest and simplest way to get a taste of Tokyo right now 🙂
PS – I excluded the tonka beans because they’re quite difficult to find but if you want to add them in and have them, you need 1/2 a tonka bean, grated. It’s added into the white chocolate mix.
PPS – I thought the lemon was a bit too bright so when I made the second mini cheesecake, I left it out and loved it even more.
The Best Japanese Cheesecake Recipe
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
- 200 grams cream cheese room temp
- 100 grams sugar
- 100 grams cream
- 50 grams white chocolate
- 180 grams sour cream
- 50 grams greek yogurt
- 2 egg yolks room temp
- 9 grams lemon juice
- 1/4 vanilla bean optional
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 20 grams cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 365°F. In a bowl over a double boiler, mix together the cream cheese and sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the cream cheese is smooth. Remove and set aside to cool slightly.
In a small saucepan, heat the cream just until the edges start to bubble. Take it off the heat and add the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Pour the cream and chocolate mixture into the cream cheese mixture and combine until smooth. Stir in the vanilla bean, if using.
In another bowl, mix the sour cream and yogurt together. Mix in the egg yolk, lemon juice (if using), and vanilla extract. Whisk in the cornstarch.
Stir the yogurt mix into the cream cheese mix, whisking until smooth. Strain through a sieve to remove any lumps (and the vanilla bean). Transfer the batter to a standard size loaf pan lined with baking paper.
Place in a large baking dish and pour hot water into the dish to create a water bath. Bake for 25 minutes at 365°F then rotate and reduce the temp down to 300°F and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the water bath and cool on a rack for 30 minutes before removing the cheesecake from the pan and chilling in the fridge to cool completely.
Enjoy either from the fridge, frozen, or at room temp. From the fridge the cheesecake will have that classic melt in your mouth texture with a hint of vanilla and balance of sweetness. Frozen tastes a little bit like frozen custard with lemon and room temp tastes velvety and soft.
Broil slightly for a charred golden top.