It is often said, “cooking is science.” In order to be a good chef, you need to understand the chemistry and physics of cooking. You need to be precise about the ingredients and the length of time you cook them, so cooking is just like an experiment for scientists. I have a friend who is a laboratory scientist, and he is a wonderful cook. Likewise, Mr. Wada, the founder of Johann, a cheesecake shop in Nakameguro, worked for an industrial chemical company before retiring.
Mr. Wada first had cheesecake when an American newspaper journalist in Japan invited him to his house for dinner. The wife of this journalist baked cheesecake for dessert, and Mr. Wada couldn’t forget the taste of it. It was a New York style cheesecake, very sweet and delicious. He asked the wife for the recipe, and once he got the recipe, the scientist in him started to experiment. Mr. Wada knew the original recipe would be too sweet for the Japanese palate. He wanted to create a recipe that would be loved by many people, young and old. By the time he opened his store, he had come up with four different cheesecake flavors, Mellow, Natural, Blueberry, and Sour Soft. The Mellow cakes are closest to the recipe that was handed down by his friend’s wife. It is sweet and creamy, and the very first cake that was born through his experiment. The Natural cheesecake is less sweet, and the Blueberry uses cottage cheese and blueberry jam. The Sour Soft has sour cream topping which gives the cheesecake a refreshing tart flavor. The recipes have not changed since the shop first opened its doors in 1978. Mr. Wada passed away several years ago, but his colleagues have succeeded his recipes. They too have retired from the same chemical company, and the average age of the chefs is over 65!
The Johann cheesecakes contain over 65% of real cheese in their cakes, and they use no water, food coloring, artificial flavors, or preservatives, so it’s popular among mothers as snacks for their children. They will last for a week without losing its flavor and taste in the refrigerator. The grandpa chefs are very strict at being precise to the recipe just like they used to do at work, so the taste of the cakes are always the same. This kind of solemness is what has made the cheesecakes so special. The New York Cheesecake that was brought to Japan by and American journalist has evolved into a Tokyo Cheesecake, loved by locals for decades.
1-18-15, Kamimeguro, Meguro-Ku, Tokyo
Open Daily from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm