Hours before Japanese cheese tart chain Pablo started selling the pastries at its first outlet here in Wisma Atria on Tuesday (Aug 8), there were already about 10 people in the queue, which grew to 70 just before the outlet opened officially at noon. The line had formed before 10am, more than two hours before the outlet's opening.
One of the early birds, housewife Sophie Chow, 48, who was in the queue at 9.30am, told The Straits Times: "I am kiasu and since I know that there will be a queue, I better be early. I tried Pablo cheese tarts and they are just so creamy and soft. Besides, Japanese confections are so cute and pretty to look at."
Another customer, Ms Grace Lew, a 24-year-old tourism student, joined the queue at 9.20am. She said she first tried the Japanese cheese tart while she was on holiday in Osaka. "When I heard they are coming here, I die die must try, as the tart is so sweet yet savoury and creamy. I came early as I want to make sure that I can buy the four regular tarts and two boxes of mini tarts to get the goodie bag."
Fellow tart lover, 60-year-old Helen Lee, said she visited Tokyo's Pablo outlet twice while she was on holiday there two years ago as she "loves the softness of the freshly baked tarts so much". "If I can't go there, the next best alternative is to queue for the tarts here," said the housewife who started queueing at 9.30am.
The number of people in the line grew to about 70 at 11.35am, with the queue snaking to the area outside Wisma Atria.
Pablo is famous for baking cheese tarts in varying degree of "doneness", like how a steak is cooked. Customers in Japan can opt for the "medium" version, which yields a wobbly and gooey cheese custard core, while the "rare" version oozes molten cheese when the tart is sliced.
However, customers here can enjoy a version that is "in between the medium and rare", like at Pablo's nine other overseas outlets in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The Osaka-based chain is renowned for its signature 15cm-wide tarts that have custard-like cream cheese encased in a baked pastry crust. It costs $15 each. Two other flavours - the matcha cheese tart with shiratama mochi and azuki or red beans, and the chocolate cheese tart - cost $18 each.
There will also be a crustless premium cheese tart ($28), which is inspired by creme brulee and topped with a brittle caramel glaze.
Also on the menu are mini tarts. The cheese-flavoured one costs $3.50, while those in chocolate and matcha flavours ($3.80 each) will be launched only later this year. Other cheesy treats include cheese soft serve ($3.90), cheese tart smoothie ($7.80) and cheese millefeuille ($18).
The 1,400 sq ft, 78-seat cafe on level one of Wisma Atria takes the space formerly occupied by Omakase Burger. Each customer can purchase up to two large cheese tarts and two boxes of mini tarts. Each box contains six mini tarts. The first 100 customers will get a goodie bag that includes a cheese tart-shaped pillow and mug when they make the maximum purchase.
Pablo founder Masamitsu Sakimoto will be at the eatery's opening, and percussion and dance performances are also lined up for the event. The brand is brought in by Caerus Holdings, which runs New York confectionery chain Lady M in Orchard Central, Westgate mall and South Beach Avenue.
Pablo is at 01-02/03 Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road. It opens from 10am to 10pm daily.
This article first appeared on The Straits Times, Aug 8, 2017.