Uncle Tetsu Japanese Cheesecake is blessed, open, and ready for business at Royal Hawaiian Center, just in time for Hinamatsuri, or Girls' Day.
After a soft-opening Tuesday to test the ovens, the bake- and beverage- shop was blessed Tuesday with both company founder and namesake Tetsushi Mizokami and Panda Restaurant Group co-founder Andrew Cherng on hand to welcome guests.
Established in Japan in 1985 by Tetsushi Mizokami (right), the Uncle Tetsu Japanese Cheesecake chain is now open at the food court in the Royal Hawaiian Center. This is Andrew Cherng (left, founder and chairman of Panda Restaurant Group, which includes Panda Express and Uncle Tetsu), and Mizokami in front of the new shop. Mizokami commonly sticks his tongue out in photos to mimic his logo, which is branded onto some of his bakery products and displayed on boxes and bags.
PHOTO BY DENNIS ODA.
Japanese cheesecake is lighter in weight, texture, and mouth-feel than its Western counterparts, and though quite fluffy, samples of Uncle Tetsu's offerings were eggy and flavorful.
Cheesecakes are baked to order, and to confound counterfeiters, are branded with a caricature of Uncle Tetsu.
Other baked items offered include soft, sweet and puffy Madeleines in various flavors, as well as crisp cheesecake toast, made from the cheesecakes themselves. Think soft, sweet Melba toast that melts in your mouth. The shop also offers Asian-inspired beverages.
Tetsushi Mizokami, or "Uncle Tetsu," is shown branding his caricature on freshly baked cheesecakes at the newly opened Uncle Tetsu Japanese Cheesecake shop at Royal Hawaiian Center. Next to him is pastry chef Lydia Chen. PHOTO BY DENNIS ODA.
Panda Restaurant Group recently acquired the 80-unit Uncle Tetsu chain, with locations in its home base of Japan as well as other countries around the world. The Uncle Tetsu at Royal Hawaiian Center is the chain's first foray into the U.S., with another store set to open in California later this year.
“Expanding into the U.S. has been a dream for our family-owned business and we are honored to have the chance to grow our fan base here in Honolulu,” Mizokami said in a statement issued February 23.
Mizokami shares travel experiences with customers and fans via a blog on his website, in case anyone is curious as to what he will share about his U.S. debut in Waikiki.
Panda Restaurant Group, the parent company of Panda Express, Panda Inn and Hibachi-San, plans to expand the Uncle Tetsu brand across the mainland.
Cheesecake Factory, known for its heavier, American-style cheesecakes, savory selections and large portions, has been open at the center for more than a decade.