he was too innocent to live


They killed him because he was too innocent to live. He was young and ignorant and silly and he got involved. He had no more of a notion than any of you what the whole affair’s about . . .

Graham Greene, The Quiet American


A couple of weeks ago I found myself walking down Dong Khoi Street in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Yes, I also never thought that I’ll end up there. But believe you me, I am glad I did. After living a few years in South East Asia and then moving to the Middle East, it was like coming home ….

Well … the Hotel Continental Saigon, is on Dong Khoi Street, and  one can not help but find himself in the middle of “The Quiet American”. You know, …. Michael Caine vies as Thomas Fowler against young American Alden Pyle for the affections of the Vietnamese beauty Phuong …..

Hotel Continental had a prominent role in the film, for Graham Greene was a long staying guest in room 214 ….. but that’s is not the purpose of THIS story.

Two things stood out during my visit. One is Weasel coffee (Kopi Luwak) ….. you know …. coffee cherries are eaten by a civet for their fruit pulp. After spending about a day and a half in the civet’s digestive tract the beans are then defecated ….. but that’s a story for another day.

And this cute little thing is responsible for this expensive java

And, the second one was, Japanese Cheese Cake. Japanese cheese cake seems to be Korean, rather than Japanese, but nevertheless, every self respecting pastry shop in Ho Chi Minh City had an offering of this light and airy delight.

Now that I am home again, I thought I’ll give this thing a try. During my research, …. GOOGLEsearch …. The Little Teochew fired my inspiration, and I started cooking. I used Philadelphia Cream Cheese (sorry John) since this is the only one available in mainstream supermarkets here. My first choice would have been something like “Gina Marie’s Old Fashioned” from the Sierra Nevada. It would give this cake much more flavor and of course a bit different texture.

At present I have no recipe of my own, but you may do as I did and get inspired by The Little Teochew or Christine Ho. And next time I’ll feel adventurous, I will try Lorraine Elliott’s Zebra Cheese Cake.

I have no idea what one would serve with it, so I got some plums and made a plum roast,which I “improved” with a generous helping of Cognac … just in case.

So, here it is, Japanese Cheese Cake, light and airy, with some roasted plums on the side.





Published by ChefThomas

… born in Upper Austria’s Wels, I have done most of my growing up in Vienna. Only by sheer accident did I fall into the trade of Pâtissier. After a short apprentice ship at a Viennese Bakery, I was accepted for apprentice ship, at "K.u.K. Hofzuckerbäcker Demel’s Söhne", one of the oldest patisseries in Vienna. Learning the trade from the very basics, as the Emperor two Centuries ago would have expected from a "Pâtissier to the Royal and Imperial Court" (That is what the older Pâtissier still calls himself). I soon took to travel the world. From patisseries in America, to hotels in the Far East, Africa and the Middle East, did I accumulate a wealth of experience, ranging from bakeries to first class restaurants in major hotels to banquets for Presidents, Sultans and Heads of States and other famous, infamous and not so famous people. But the true excitement for me is in the "Viennese Café". Not just as an occupation, but as an institution in it own right.

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