The first time I tried a Japanese cheese tart was in Osaka.
We were on holiday, and with full bellies and just a little space left for something sweet, we came across a queue that stretched around the block.
With nowhere specific to go and being the curious sort, we joined it, hoping for something good. That something was the tart.
When we got to the front of the line, we were a little underwhelmed; a case lined with pale yellow pastries didn’t exactly seem up to par with our voyage of gluttony around the country so far. Unable to ask what they were, I held up two fingers and hoped for the best.
Creamy and slightly tart with a crisp, sweet crust, they were so good that with the pastry flakes still on our lips, we immediately rejoined the queue and demanded more.
It’s with this food memory in mind that I head to Keki, a new Japanese-style bakery located in Al Bateen.
Still in its soft opening stage, the small eatery has already amassed quite a following with its star product, a soufflé-like cheesecake that jiggles gently as you stick your spoon in it.
The restaurant is already buzzing as we arrive and it’s not hard to tell why; a pastry case lined with Japanese favourites including soft red bean anpan buns, cream-filled cornets and roll cakes grabs our attention as soon as we step through the door.
We’re sticklers for main courses before dessert, though, so we try the breakfast menu. I pick the sweet option, a doorstop-sized slice of sweet milk bread with fruit and homemade jam. With the crunch of caramelised sugar giving way to a fluffy interior, it’s misleadingly simple, but so delicious.
My guest, a fan of the savoury, opts for the omelette alongside toasted, buttered bread. The egg is silken, well seasoned and well cooked, and the savoury flavour pairs well with the sweet bread – we just wish there were more of it.
The chef comes through from the kitchen with a flourish to present us with a cheesecake in all its wobbly glory, fresh from the oven. It’s light, sweet and gently tart. It’s perfect – and yet… We’re still thinking of that cheese tart, and when we finally sink our spoons into it, the anticipation is worth it as the delicate pastry gives way to a creamy filling.
Resisting temptation to try everything in the shop, we wrap things up with some tasty Japanese-style iced coffees before planning our next visit – which will be very soon.
Need to know:
Location: Keki Bakery, corner of Hazza Bin Zayed and Al Khaleej Al Arabi Streets, Al Bateen Park
We say: Delicious – or ‘oishii’ in Japanese
Cost: AED 150 for two
Opening times: Daily 9am–10pm
Contact: 02 309 3999, instagram.com/kekiuae
WORDS Camille Hogg