Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Otto Cake Light and Dark

(Photo: Rid Sevilla)
I got treated on my birthday to the best piece of cheesecake I’ve ever had— a piece of haupia cheesecake baked by the one-named cheesecake baker Otto who does business on the edge of Honolulu’s Chinatown as Otto Cake. Not light. It was like eating light.

Otto moved from New York and gets nearly perfect Yelp and Urban Spoon ratings after opening his small storefront on Smith Street in 2009.

Otto Cake turned out to be near the small underground parking garage between Nuuanu and Smith streets I usually park in when going to Chinatown. It’s a pretty sketchy neighborhood, with an open area playground facing Otto Cake and a corner taken up by the Trinity Broadcasting Network where street people sleep in the building’s shade.

The dark part of Otto Cake is when Otto got beaten up a little over a year ago when he confronted a drug dealer transacting a sale outside his shop. For a while, fearing retaliation, he continued baking but locked his door, asking customers to call in advance or to knock to be allowed in.

Otto Cake’s door was open for business when I visited; on the windows were pasted handwritten letters from kids saying “We love you, Otto.”

Great cheesecake, Otto Cake. Good man, Otto. I love you, too.

--Mike Sato

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