Menu includes “unicorn” and “rainbow” flavors, the latter of which looks like nothing we’ve seen and tastes nothing like what we expected.
From a young age, most of us are taught that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But even individuals who apply that enlightened philosophy unerringly to human beings and literature would be surprised by A Works, a cafe in Tokyo’s Gakugei Daigaku neighborhood.
Calling A Works’ exterior understated is no exaggeration. Converted from an old single-family residence, even fans of minimalist design would most likely admit that you could even call it drab.
However, the somber tones make that shiny metallic “cheesecake” sign stand out all the more. Should it happen to draw you in, you’ll be startled to see that while A Works doesn’t have much color on the outside, its dessert case is positively exploding with hues.
A Works has a pretty extensive lineup of southeast Asian dishes on the menu, but the restaurant’s real claim to fame is its variety of cheesecakes. There’re so many to choose from that we couldn’t pick just one, so we decided to completely spoil our appetite for dinner by eating five.
A Works prices its cheesecakes at 480 yen (US$4.30) a slice, with cake/drink combinations starting at 950 yen. Among the selections we made for our sweet feast was the “unicorn cheesecake,” which is topped not just with the swirl of pink cream seen in the display case…
…but also cotton candy!
While it’s tempting to eat the cotton candy with your fingers, like you’re at the country fair, the even better option is to use your fork to get a mouthful of it simultaneously with some cake for a fluffy, moist burst of sweetness.
A Works is also getting behind the recent boom in mint chocolate sweets in Japan, with a mint chocolate cheesecake (topped with banana), but the cafe’s chefs have nothing against more mundane takes on the dessert, such as caramel pumpkin cheesecake.
In contrast to more intensely minty desserts, A Works’ mint chocolate cheesecakes takes a more balanced approach, letting you enjoy the flavor of the chocolate chips as well. The caramel pumpkin is similarly sweet, with delicate caramel notes that don’t overpower the palate.
To close out our decadent meal, we decided to go from one visual extreme to the other with a slice each of the plain and rainbow cheesecakes.
The plain cheesecake is an unassuming as can be, reminding us of the restaurant’s exterior. Both it and the rainbow cheesecake are served with a lemon wedge stuffed into a squeezer, so that you can add tangy citrus to suit your preference.
Without any added lemon, the plain cheesecake is sweet and rich, leaving no room for complaint. With a dash of lemon juice, though, you get another layer of flavor to enjoy, so we’d recommend giving it a squeeze.
Finally, we came to the rainbow cheesecake. Looking like nothing we’d seen before, we had no idea what it would taste like. We bravely picked up our fork once more, took a bite, and…
…discovered that it tastes just like the plain cheesecake. So it’s incredibly tasty, but also produces a short burst of confusion because of the disconnect between its unique appearance and orthodox, though delicious, flavor.
While Works has a huge variety of cheesecakes, their quantities tend to be limited. Take-out orders are only available on non-weekend holidays and sell out very quickly, so the best option is to eat-in at the cafe…and to bring some friends so you can try as many different flavors as possible.
A Works / エーワークス
Address: Tokyo-to, Meguro-ku, Takaban 3-3-7
Open 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
[ Read in Japanese ]