Basque Cheesecake Is Everywhere, And Here’s Where To Find The Best In Hong Kong
As far as Instagrammable desserts go, Basque cheesecake (or Basque burnt cheesecake) is not exactly high on the list—yet, this contradictory creation is curiously beguiling, with its contrast of charred top and undercooked centre, and its bittersweet flavour. At La Viña, the pintxos bar in San Sebastian where it was first invented by chef-owner Santiago Rivera, shelves heave with round tins of cheesecake, slumbering in their roughly tussled waxed paper linings that have, too, blackened in the heat of the oven. The aroma of these baked beauties is unmistakeable—the rich, sweet tang of Spanish cream cheese (said to be saltier than American Philadelphia) catching with the deeply caramelised, nay, burnt toffee notes. Cut a slice and its centre is soft, creamy and oozes like a ripe Camembert, its light eggy shade in stark contrast to the firm, blackened layer that is reminiscent of the outer edges of a great canele.
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For an inexplicable reason, Google searches for Basque cheesecake have peaked not just in Hong Kong, but worldwide in the last two months—and versions of the cake have been popping up in multiple cafes around Hong Kong. Its quiet takeover has become more and more obvious as the craze for the Spanish cheesecake has seen Instagrammers sharing their own take throughout these days of social distancing, when home baking has reached new levels of popularity. Here are seven spots to find this decadent delight right here in Hong Kong.
1/9 Interval Coffee Bar
Limited quantities of the housemade burnt Basque cheesecake is available on Interval’s a la carte menu, priced at HK$68 per slice. The fluffy cake is supplemented with a serving of fresh fruits on the side do well to cut through the richness. We recommend you ask the knowledgeable staff for a glass of natural wine to complement your dessert, otherwise the coffee is excellent as well.
Interval Coffee Bar, UG/F, 33 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2570 7568
2/9 Doubleshot by Cupping Room
This sleek cafe-slash-wine bar by the team behind one of Hong Kong’s biggest coffee roasters offers an expanded menu that also includes their take on the La Viña cheesecake. The cake is individually sized (though small, it’s very generous considering how rich it is) and comes plated with the wax paper its baked in. Each cheesecake is HK$68.
Doubleshot By Cupping Room, 1F, Hilltop Plaza, 49 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong; +852 9225 6639
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3/9 JOMO Coffee & Cakes
While they may have a massive new branch complete with a gym out in Tseung Kwan O, the original JOMO is a tiny café hidden in an alleyway in Sai Ying Pun. From the beginning, we were impressed with their creative, beautiful bakes such as the hojicha chiffon cake and apple pie; they’ve just added their take on the Basque cheesecake, which is served with a dollop of rich cream.
JOMO Coffee & Cakes, Wing To Building, Shop D, G/F, 4 Water Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong; +852 2762 0258
JOMO Kitchen & Health Hub, Shop G01, 23 Monterey Place, Tong Chung Street, Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong; +852 2331 3003
Teakha’s cakes are among our favourites in town, and their online cake shop has their full range of sweet treats ready for pre-ordering. Adding their own spin to the classic La Viña cheesecake, the Teakha team have created an updated version that includes a brown sugar cinnamon base for an extra layer of flavour and texture. It’s available as a 7” or 9” cake to serve 8-12 people respectively.
Teakha, Shop B, 18 Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong; +852 2858 9185
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5/9 Solight Studio
Opened at the beginning of this year, Solight Studio is a dreamy space housed in an industrial building in Tai Kok Tsui; the location is kept secret by its owner, and guests need to contact them ahead of time to reserve a slot to visit. Reservations for April have already booked out, and slots for May will be opened in due course—so keep an eye on their Instagram if you fancy going to try their take on the La Viña cheesecake. The venue has also become known for its homestyle cooking (salads made with local vegetables, homemade meatballs, etc) as well as their baked goods.
6/9 Artista Perfetto x Hemma
One of our favourite coffee shops in town has a great partner in Hemma, a local cakery that supplies the tiny cafe with an array of sweet treats. Their Basque cheesecakes—and all of their baked goods—are made using high quality Japanese eggs and copious amounts of vanilla. They've also caught onto the local obsession with green tea and offer a matcha version of their Basque cheesecake.
Artista Perfetto, 3A Sharp Street West, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
7/9 Miam Bakery
We love the name of this Sai Ying Pun bakery, which brings to mind the sound a happy cartoon character might make when digging into a particularly delicious treat. Pastries such as croissants, cinnamon rolls and loaves of bread are among their specialties, but they’ve also added the Basque cheesecake to their repertoire. The tops are lighter in tone to create a more delicately flavoured version of the cake.
Miam Bakery, 73 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong; +852 5592 5507
8/9 Makee x Home Do
Makee is not a cafe per se—it’s actually an antique store selling myriad vintage trinkets collected from around the world. However, they often collaborate with local baker Home Do who provides a regularly changing menu of organic, homemade cakes. A recent example is their lighter, Japanese take on the Basque cheesecake, the cinnamon apple cheesecake with a lightly burnt topping to highlight the fragrance of the spice. Support the shop by purchasing an item and you’ll be treated to a slice of cake and a tea or coffee, free of charge.
Makee, 4/F, 65 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
9/9 Pica Pica
One of Hong Kong's top spots for authentic Spanish tapas, Pica Pica in Sheung Wan is another place where you can get a taste of this Basque classic. Served with a scoop of fruity sorbet to temper the cheesecake's richness, it's a dessert that you'll want to save room for even after a full on feast.
Pica Pica, Kai Tak Commercial Building, Shop G & H, G/F, 317-321 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong; +852 2811 9880