Should you, unwaveringly patient foodie, stand in line for over an hour to splurge on San Francisco's newest viral culinary sensation?
Earlier this week, Bake Cheese Tart opened its first U.S. location in SF's Westfield Centre. Since its 10am unveiling on Monday, the Japanese-based company has attracted literally thousands of die-hard American fans, savvy Instagrammers, and curious mall patrons alike, each persuaded to wait upwards of an hour or more to taste what they, the baker, describes as an "unforgettable first bite."
The treat itself is simple: a small flour tart filled with a textured mousse made from an original blend of cream cheese and a small amount sea salt, brushed with clarified butter before being "flash baked" at an ungodly high temperature, resulting in a caramelized outer shell and barely coagulated interior. To put it differently, it's a tiny undercooked cheesecake.
After 90 minutes in line at the new spot in the Westfield, we finally managed to place our order for two cheese tarts—one in the "original" flavor, the other a limited-edition chocolate varietal—and handed over our $7.76 in exchange for what had been promised to be a hype-worthy sugar rush. We plopped down at a drab food court bench somewhere between a Walgreens and the Panda Express, plunged our hand into the honey-yellow to-go bag, and fished out the chocolate cheese tart first.Mimicking the taste and texture of store-bought, plastic-cupped chocolate pudding, the runny tart coated our tongue with the raw tang of cocoa powder. To call it underwhelming would be inappropriate; no, "off-putting" is more fitting.Nevertheless, we cleansed our palate with a sip of previously purchased cold brew and, with a touch of optimism, reached for the OG: the gooey morsel that's made Bake Cheese tart a global phenomenon. We are happy to report that the signature treat is, indeed, worthy of cross-continental praise. In the same way that a fine raw cookie dough can sometimes be more satisfying than the finished cookie, the vanilla-flavored buttered tart dissolved the memory of our previous bite-sized disappointment into a two-bite quasi-cooked cloud of cream and sugar.
But the question remains: Was it worth the 90-minute culinary odyssey...at the mall, no less? Unless Beyoncé's working the register while Rihanna fills the tart boxes, you won't see us queuing up for the finger-friendly dessert ever again. We'll wait for its inevitable delivery via Caviar.
// Bake Cheese Tart,Westfield San Francisco Centre, 865 Market St., level C (SoMa), cheesetart.com.