I’ve heard it said that a good man is hard to find. A good man that bakes, however? Impossible! Fortunately for Hawaii’s taste buds, such a man exists. His name is Otto, and not only is he a great guy, but he’s a damn good cheesecake baker, too.
Otto can bake like no other man can bake. This is him with a fruit loop concoction.
The first Otto Cake was made more than 22 years ago (today marks the 22nd anniversary!) when Otto’s mother’s favorite brand of cheesecake was discontinued at a store. Otto then concocted his own cheesecake recipe, summoning his kitchen experience with his father and grandmother, to create the perfect cake good enough for Mama’s taste buds.
It was a hit with Mom, and a little while later, he brought it to a potluck where he received eight orders on the spot. Through the coconut wireless, word spread and orders kept coming, until Otto’s cheesecake was being sold in more than 15 local coffee shops island wide.VIDEO: On a lazy Sunday morning, Otto and Serena talk cheesecake..duh!
With all these orders coming in, Otto had to get a commercial kitchen to supply all of the demand and rented a spot in the warehouse district by the airport. I first met Otto a little over 10 years ago at this bakery, where he hosted punk shows and his band, The 86 List, would often play (In 2011, The 86 List was the first genre of its kind to get a Na Hoku Hanohano award nomination!). I would see little slices of free cheesecake getting passed around amidst the mosh pit, and after the first bite, I was hooked.
A few years ago, Otto changed locations and decided to open up a retail bakery in Chinatown. Once a sketchy and sometimes dangerous area, Chinatown has recently cleaned up its act and is the new hot spot for up and coming local businesses and boutiques. You can find Otto Cake behind its red doors on Smith Street, where a display case of cheesecake slices awaits you. So many flavors, so little time. The Bacon and Maple cheesecake goes quickly!
Now boasting over 86 flavors of deliciousness, you never know what flavor might be waiting for a taste. Some of the concoctions include: Acai bowl, Maple bacon, Lilikoi, Rootbeer Float, Black Forest, Red and Blue Velvet, Amazing Plain, Mexican Chocolate, Pineapple Macadamia Coconut Cream, Kahlua, Blueberry, Big Island Lehua Blossom Honey, Caramel, Cherry, Fruit Loops, Green Tea, Rocky Road, White Chocolate Raspberry (my favorite), Chocolate Chocolate Chip (Otto’s favorite), Orange Chocolate Chip (Otto’s other favorite), Strawberry Basil, Butterfinger and Chinese Almond Cookie…just to name a few. Hungry yet?
Otto makes all cheesecakes by hand, averaging about eight cakes a day in the store’s kitchen, which is tucked behind what looks like stage curtains. He claims that he can make any flavor of cheesecake and takes special orders for whatever customers are fancying. Some orders have included cilantro and wasabi flavored cakes! At the store, he doesn’t stop at cheesecake. Otto Cake also offers coffee cake, carrot cake, cheesecake sandwiches, cupcakes and the best iced coffee you’ve ever tasted.
Simply put, Otto Cake cheesecake will knock your socks off. The reason why it’s been around for 22 years is because people love it and because Otto loves what he does. If you’re in town and want to treat yourself, then make your way over to Chinatown to have a little slice of heaven, as sweet and unique as the man who makes it.
Video Credit: Alyssa S. Navares
Photo Credit (second photo): Otto
OTTO CAKE • 1160 Smith St., Honolulu, HI 96817 • 808-834-OTTO • Opens Mon-Thurs 10am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 10am-3pm • www.ottocake.com • Street parking or municipal parking available; Near bus route