Auckland has attracted a lot of famous and unconventional food outlets as of late. One of those outlets is Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tarts.
You’ll find it just opposite Aotea Square, nestled among a hive of churro, donburi and cookie stalls that are no wider than a metre. What sets Hokkaido apart from its neighbours? Firstly, it’s kitted out in cheerful yellow; the staff have the biggest smiles on the block and inside a large glass cabinet are the most beautiful tarts.
Urban List ran an article on these little discs of happiness not that long ago, warning Aucklanders to keep “your taste buds fuzzing”.
If you haven’t made it into the city to try these tarts yet, I would suggest you hurry on up.
I was met by Marcus who knows everything there is to know about the tarts…except for the secret ingredient.
We were supplied with a tart each and got to speak to Marcus for a while. He tells us that there are around 11 branches of Hokkaido in Australia so it was a natural jump across the ditch to New Zealand. With 3 types of cheese baked in, these are not just pretending to be cheesy. The tarts are baked fresh on the premises everyday but it’s a real balancing act. The staff need to cook enough to supply the demand but not too many as the texture of the tarts change as they cool. When warm, the tarts are gooey and slightly runny in the middle with a rich cheese flavour but when cooled, they become firmer and the flavour becomes more subtle. The crust is made from sweet pastry but the middle is neither savoury nor sweet. Depending on the weather, you might have a different tart experience every time you head into Hokkaido. That’s because the humidity plays a bit part in the texture of the tarts.
Once our tarts were nothing more than crumbs, Marcus pulled out the big guns and introduced us to their ice cream. The original flavour tastes like their tarts in cold, velvety smooth form. The berry flavour is like eating one of those fresh berry ice creams you get on farms but so, so much richer.
They’re served in a waffle cone. Make sure you grab loads of napkins though, the ice cream melts quicker than normal but is oh so worth it.
I really enjoyed my Hokkaido cheese tart. My husband has already vowed to go back after class which is great news because students get discount when they buy packs of these babies.