We try mini tarts with melting centres from Japan’s most popular cheese tart specialty bakery.
Cheesecakes and cheese tarts have a unique flavour in Japan. Rather than being overly sweet, the savoury flavour of cheese is more pronounced, which works to bring out an intense umami flavour, creating a delicious sweet treat that combines beautifully with a variety of flavours.
While there are a number of stores selling cheese tarts in Japan, the Osaka-based Pablo brand is known to be the country’s most popular. Walk past any of their outlets in Japan with queues around the corner and you’ll quickly see why, as the mouthwatering posters advertising their signature gooey-centred tarts will instantly make you go weak at the knees!
Pablo produces tarts in two sizes: one that measures roughly 15 centimetres (6 inches) across, and a mini version that’s 6.5 centimetres across, which is small enough to fit snugly in the palm of your hand. While their regular outlets usually sell both sizes, the company also has a number of special Pablo Mini stores, dedicated to selling the smaller-sized versions only. Looking to try as many flavours as possible in one sitting, we headed down to the Pablo Mini store in Akihabara to see what was available.
Though the line was long, it moved quickly, so it wasn’t long before a staff member was handing us a menu and taking our order as we reached the front of the queue. With six varieties of cheese tarts to choose from, we decided to go for the Special Mix set, priced at 1,380 yen (US$12.17), which gave us one of each flavour.
Though the store has no seating, some customers could be seen standing nearby, tucking into the freshly baked tarts immediately. We decided to be patient and hold off on our sweet feast until we got home, where we could fawn over each tart’s beauty and give them all the attention they deserve.
Opening the box, we were pleased to find that the two layers of tarts looked just as delicious as they did in the store.
▼ The flavours are (clockwise from top): Aromatic Matcha, Plain, Strawberry, Matcha, Chocolate, and Cinnapple.
The tarts can be purchased as part of a set, but they’re also sold separately, with the plain version retailing for 300 yen, while the matcha, chocolate and strawberry versions retail for 230 yen. The limited-edition Cinnapple, which is only on sale from 1 April to 31 May, and the Aromatic Matcha, available from 1 May to 30 June, retail for 300 yen each.
▼ First up, we have Pablo’s original plain tart.
This one has a rich, sweet cheese flavour, with a smooth and airy texture that’s much lighter than a regular cheesecake. The fluffy filling is so light that it melts in the mouth, pairing beautifully with the biscuit flavours of the crunchy pastry base so that it leaves you craving more with its delicious aftertaste.
▼ Next up is the Chocolate cheese tart.
This tiny tart is absolute heaven for chocolate lovers. Rich, creamy and smooth, this showcases the flavour of chocolate beautifully. Even though we’d stored these pieces in the fridge before eating, the filling remained so light and fluffy you could still see all the little pockets of air in the mix.
After a quick zap in the microwave, the melted centre becomes even more of a chocolate dream.
▼ Another one of the staples in the Pablo Mini range is the Strawberry cheese tart.
This is the tartest tart in the collection, with the fresh taste of strawberries bringing a sweetly astringent flavour to the mix, combining well with the slight tang of the cream cheese filling.
The astringent, fruity flavours mellow out slightly after heating, when the filling becomes a delectable mess of warm, creamy goodness.
▼ Another mainstay in the Pablo Mini range is the gorgeous Matcha cheese tart.
Using powdered green tea sourced from the highly respected tea-growing region of Uji in Kyoto, this tart combines the rich taste of cream cheese with the bittersweet flavour of matcha.
This is the creamiest matcha treat we’ve ever tasted! Rich and luxurious, the filling contains one of the most satisfying blends in the whole collection, with perfectly balanced flavours of sweet, bitter and savoury umami notes in every mouthful.
▼ Now we move on to the first of their current seasonal releases, the Cinnapple tart.
The combination of fruit and spice here makes a perfect partner for the just-sweet flavour of the cream cheese filling. Combined with the crumbly pastry base, biting into this is like eating an apple pie, but with an added layer of cream underneath. Rich, sweet, and spicy, this one tastes great served hot or cold.
▼ The final sweet in the range is the Aromatic Matcha cheese tart.
This limited-edition variety brings all the flavour of a traditional Japanese dessert and packs it into a western style pastry case.
Using the same high-quality powdered green tea from Uji in the cream cheese filling, this tart gets an added layer of bittersweet matcha in the beautifully piped Mont Blanc dessert-style topping, which is finished off with a cluster of sweet red beans.
When heated, the gooey centre oozes out under the weight of the sweet topping so you can enjoy a number of different textures and delicious flavours, all in one small treat.
Unlike most tarts with thick cheese fillings, Pablo’s offerings are in a league of their own, with rich flavours that are so light in texture you could eat several of them at once without feeling heavy or full.
And while we’re mad about Pablo tarts and want to share our love for them with you, rest assured that this is not a sponsored post and the company don’t even know about all this free advertising we’re giving them. Actually, Pablo, if you’re reading this, why not throw a little love our way with some freebies in future? And while you’re at it, don’t forget to give us a deal for our loyal readers to enjoy too!
Photos © RocketNews24