A trendy sushi fusion restaurant is one of the last places one might expect to find a unique fine dining-style dessert. After all, it's rare to even find a dedicated pastry chef in all but the very highest end sushi joints. But there I was at Sushi Samba staring at a giant, hand blown sugar sphere with cake inside. And for the second time in three weeks I was eating a reimagined cheesecake that I really enjoyed.
The key to the success of the Yuzu Tart Cheesecake ($12) is the excellent use of tangy components, like yuzu juice and lemon and orange zest. These acid-heavy ingredients really balance the creaminess of the cheesecake, which is created using a classic pâté a bomb technique. The result feels and tastes more like a heavy, yuzu-flavored mousse rather than a bland cake made from cream cheese--my usual complaint about most cheesecakes.
Other thoughtful components, including a fun-to-eat basil granite, also help cut the sweetness of the cake and candy elements. A highly creative take on graham cracker crust features shortbread cookie crumble that's mixed with lemon zest and brown butter. Crispy lemon meringue drops make for an additional crunchy component against the soft cheesecake. The giant, clear, sugar sphere that surounds a large portion of the cake is by far the crunchiest component. It looks delicate but is actually quite robust and tough to crack.
Though this dessert is in fine dining style, it's portion size isn't—definitely large enough to share.