Sweet Things- Grapefruit Bing Soo – Kanzi Café

Lower Ground, 393-399 Sussex Street, Haymarket

I remember as a kid, standing on the street level watching my mum as I waited for her whilst she did her Chinese grocery shopping at 393-399 Sussex Street. But the grocery store is long gone, and in its current iteration this below ground space is occupied by a Korean fashion store and its adjoining café serving fish shaped pastries, fruit flavoured slushies, and Bing Soos.

We were here after having lunch at Enjoy Café with my sis and her family, and we found ourselves a grouping of wicker lounges placed around a wicker coffee table in the below ground space as we waited for our orders to be made.

We ordered the Grapefruit Bing Soo, my sister and her husband shared with their kids the Mango Bing Soo, while the kids also shared a Watermelon slushie.

A Bing Soo for those less familiar with the Korean dessert, is a shaved ice, with different toppings incorporated into its icy enfold. For us our Bing Soo included Grapefruit juice, fresh pieces of grapefruit, these little exploding balls containing a sweet syrup within them (Popping Pearls) and underneath the dome of ice was a bed of cereal (Fruit-Loops and cornflakes). *Shrug*.

The Grapefruit was definitely sour, but with the iciness and the sweetness of the balls, it offset the tartness. And when we reached the layer of cereal, at first it was a little weird. But we started to understand the logic when the ice started to melt and the fruit-loops absorbed up the liquids. Because of this, it made the final 50% of the Bing Soo more enjoyable than other café’s offerings, as other Bing Soos end up becoming a Bing Soup!

My sister’s Mango Bing Soo was similar yet different, instead of the burst-y balls, they had small pieces of a sweet chewy thing, and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top; and mango replaced the pieces of grapefruit; while they also had the bed of cereal which acted as a crunchy sponge.

For $14.90 each (small size), its a little bit ex-y; but to have a space in the city to hang-out, it was definitely worth it! The space for me, was actually the highlight, as it felt really cosy; the wicker lounges were comfortable enough as they had a layer of cushion to shield you from all the hard bits; you could pull over enough chairs so that your entire group can fit around the coffee table; and the music and other patrons were low and far enough that your group does not intrude on their group. So I liked the space probably more than the Bing Soo, and more than our dining companions. Jks Jks, I love hanging out with my nephew and niece!  

Check-out the Kanzi Café if you’re a group of 4-6 people, just wanting a nice space to continue on your lunch/dinner chats.

Sweet Things- Hot Cross Buns

Coles Supermarkets- Nationally

Hot cross buns don’t need any introduction, but I had to post this considering the prominence it has played in our lives over the past 4 months.

So families develop Easter traditions over-time, be that catching-up over a seafood BBQ on the Friday or Sunday; Easter egg hunts in the backyard is a given if you have under 5s; and the office morning tea with warm hot cross buns and melty butter occurred in many office break-outs across Australia on the days leading up to Good Friday! And my wife and I, we have our very own Easter tradition of purchasing Hot Cross buns as soon as our local Coles supermarket starts to stock the criss crossed, glazed, spiced fruit buns. And we keep buying and consuming them every weekend until they eventually stop selling them when Easter has come and gone.

These days Coles start making and selling their hot cross buns literally on the first weekend after Christmas! So we’ve been consuming the cinnamon fruit bun for coming on 17 weekends now and to tell  you the truth, we’re pretty ready for an 8 month break from hot cross buns. Haaha.

But Coles has done a great job, if you buy your bread in the afternoons they’re always fresh (in the mornings they’re usually still trying to move the day old stock). So we’ve always been pleased with its freshness, and we find the traditional hot cross buns still being the best! The apple-cinnamon was a bit too sweet for our liking, and this year we’ve stayed clear of the chocolate versions, and the advertised raspberry white chocolate hot cross bun may only be a myth? As we never saw this bun iteration at our local Coles.

So a thank you to Coles and Hot Cross Buns for being a part of our family and our Easter tradition for the past 4 months! But it is time for us to temporarily part ways, but it’s only for a short period of time – in no time you’ll be back on the shelves and gracing our weekend breakfast plates! Can’t wait!

Sweet Things- Thai Milk Green Tea & Pandan Milk Bun- Chapayom

Suite 1, Skyview Plaza 537-551 George Street, Sydney

After attending a wedding and being fed in a post-knot-tying spread, we just had to squeeze in a ‘Sweet Things’ treat, to maintain a regularness to our posts for you, the reader!

This week on my interminable trawling of the web for all that is new in our fair city, I learned that the Thai brand Chapayom had opened its first Australian store on George Street!! (The first shop greeting customers as they enter the Skyview Plaza when entering from George Street).

If you haven’t heard of Chapayom before (I hadn’t either before this week), here is a super quick origins story…..Back in Thailand, only 7 years ago, they were a start-up serving up Milk Tea and coffees in a street-side store in Hat Yai. But 7 years on (and after becoming one of Thailand’s most favourite brands, and expanding to other South-east Asian countries) Chapayom are now serving up their own brand of Thai Milk Teas and Thai Coffees to Sydney-siders in their street-side store, but in a much busier setting than their humble beginnings in Hat Yai.

Today we shared a ‘Perfect Match’- a choice of any standard drink and edible pairing for $8. We chose the Thai Milk Green Tea, and the Pandan Custard Grilled Milky Bun.

The Milky Bun was the stand-out – the bun was soft and fluffy, toasted on both sides, covered and filled with a moreish Pandan flavoured custard cream, and sprinkled on top were shreds of toasted coconut. *Slack jawed emoji*.  So it was a great mixture of textures – a soft and a little bit crunchy bun; a sticky oozy custard cream; and the chewiness from the coconut! The texture reminded me a little bit of a doughnut, if I had to attempt to describe it to anyone – but imagine a Krispy  Kreme donut, rather than a standard cinnamon doughnut. Yeah?

The Thai Green Milk Tea….. Um, it was creamy and it was sweet, but it wasn’t a stand-out? Perhaps in Sydney we’ve been spoiled by really good milk teas, both by the Taiwanese and by the numerous Thai restaurants. Thus after taking our first sips we just registered the flavours, and went “hmmm, ok then.” And if anything, my criticism was that it came with too much shaved ice, which didn’t blend in with the tea? Not exaggerating, at least half of the cup was ice alone? Although the cup is large (probs 450ml) and when you hold it, it feels quite substantial; however when you’re happily sucking enthusiastically on the straw, in moments you realise that you’re out of drink and you’re left with half a cup of ice. *Sad look*. And because shaved ice just piles onto itself, so you’re literally paying for almost half a cup of shaved ice and half cup of milk tea. Maybe you can try asking for “no ice”, and see how much tea you get then- but I personally didn’t think I got $5.50 worth of value.

However as an afternoon sweet treat (post-lunch), Chapayom’s ‘Perfect match’ is a nice late arvo treat, the tea def has enough sugar/caffeine to keep you wide awake during the late arvo lull. Although if you want copious amounts of tasty, strong Thai Milk Tea, I’d recommend you to down it at Tawandang (2 blocks down George Street). Tawandang does a $6 unlimited Thai Milk Tea, when dining in. Literally when they see your glass reach the half way mark, they’re back filling up your strong milk tea from a chilled jug right back up to the top again! Let’s just say if you plan not to sleep for 2 days, just go nuts and get your moneys worth there! Haaha.    

Sweet Things- Cinnamon Marzipan & Cherry Puff Pastry- Luneburger German Bakery

Shop 14A2, Henry Dean Plaza, Central Station, 14 Lee Street, Haymarket

Walking by each morning on my way to work, it’s hard not to notice the glorious smells of Luneburger German Bakery’s freshly baked breads and pastries- the smell of buttery pastries thick in the air which physically hits you when you walk past.

So I vowed one day I’ll come here with my wife and try their baked goods.

And that day has arrived!

We limited our choices to only the sweet pastries, and I chose the Cherry Puff Pastry ($4.20), and my wife chose the Cinnamon Marzipan ($4.20).

First bite into the Cherry puff- Yeah, real nice sour cherry flavour, the actual pastry was light, and it wasn’t too sweet.

The Marzipan pastry- was less distinctive tasting, the marzipan was mixed into the pastry so there was only a flavour of it but no physical sign of marzipan. And again, not too sweet.

But Luneburger German Bakery pastries weren’t as amazing compared to how great they smell in the mornings. But they weren’t bad, and deserving of the title as being a ‘go-to’ bakery for many office-workers in the area. Next time I’m keen to try their savoury soft pretzels. Mmmmm.

It’s been a while since I’ve had proper (non-Asian) bakery pastries (since Delifrance closed its doors, so it was nice to have a delicately constructed pastry again. However they just weren’t as good as how ‘Pierre’ used to make them……. Yeah! Hit us up below if you know of a Sydney bakery who makes croissants as good as (or better than) the Frenchies used to at Delifrance.

Sweet Things- Black Sesame and Hojicha Soft Serves- Oh! Matcha

Lower ground Level, World Square, 644 George Street, Sydney    

Most of us, when we conjure up the image of soft serves, a mental image of the MacDonald’s 30c soft serve cone comes to mind? Yeah? Today we tried some Asian flavoured soft serves from Oh! Matcha- the World Square outlet located on the lower ground level (outside Liquorland).

I elected the Black sesame flavour, while my wife got the Hojicha flavour (roasted green tea), you can choose to have it in a cup or waffle cone (for the same price- $3.90 each) and this time we went with the cones.

Apologies, we don’t have any pics as within moments of receiving our ‘Sweet things’ from the staff, they were already melting all over the place and weren’t all that photogenic. But picture a tea-brown coloured soft serve paired with a pink coloured waffle cone (this was the Hojicha flavour), while the Black sesame soft serve was more grey sesame than black…… so picture a pale grey coloured soft serve paired with a black coloured waffle cone. Yeah, a little out-there!

But as much as people pooh pooh MacDonald’s soft serves as being filled with pig fat…… But whatever Maccas place in their soft serves, they’ve nailed it for ‘staying power’ and creaminess. As these Oh! Matcha soft serves were more ‘Oh no! No Matcha!’ “Oh no!”, because without the magic ingredient of the MacDonald’s soft serves, these were melty, and thin-creamed i.e. there wasn’t that nice creaminess you associate with soft serves. And the “No Matcha”, although we didn’t order a Matcha flavour, overall the flavours were very weak. There was barely a Black sesame flavour to mine, and my wife’s Hojicha had a faint taste of roasted green tea on the first taste, but thereafter, it just tasted like chilled milk.

And the waffle cones were very thin, so much so that if you didn’t consume your dessert in quick time, the cone might actually disintegrate on you.

In the end, it cooled us off on a warm-ish autumn’s day, and for $3.90 it’s pretty reasonably priced. Oh! Matcha also serves hot and cold Matcha drinks, parfaits, floats, and Anmitsu, so even though the soft serve didn’t hit the mark this time, there are still many other alternatives to try next-time.

Sweet Things- Strawberry Cheese Pie Bingsu- Old School Ka-fey

382 Pitt Street, Sydney

As a man of my word, I had vowed to return back to Old School Ka-fey after our brief encounter with each other on Friday night, so we find ourselves here on a Sunday arvo to try their Korean Bingsu!

At around 3.30pm on a Sunday arvo they were packed, we were kindly asked to take a seat in the slanted entranceway where a number of seats were set up for customers to wait for tables to free up and as we sat (feeling like waiting at a doctor’s surgery) my wife noticed the remarkable resemblance between the Ka-fey and Satang Thai Infinity interior decorations.

“Nah, it can’t be, they probably didn’t renovate after moving in” I insisted, as ‘Old School’ had moved into the vacated store after Infinity set up in the World Square.

“But there are decorations which are the same!” My wife told me. “Like they even have a vintage mo-ped like they had at Satang!” And with that piece of information, I had no return.

But after a couple left, we were seen to a table for two, and after making our orders back at the front counter, we waited for our Bingsu. While we waited my wife googled to understand what exactly is a Bingsu (as we’d never had one before).

A Bingsu is a Korean dessert, picture a snow-cone shaved-ice with syrup and different ingredients mixed into it, but at $14.90 they’re some heavy-duty premium snow cones! But reading a popular Sydney Foodie’s blog, we found out that Old School was actually owned by Satang Thai- hence the matching décor with their World Square restaurant. And all of a sudden I had to re-adjust my mental imagery: The friendly Korean store owner from Friday night was in fact Thai; and his friendly re-direction to Satang, was not just to help a lost couple, but a strategic  prompt of customers to their parent store. But oh well! Such is life.

But our monstrosity ice cone arrived, and all thoughts of unauthenticity left when this was set down before us.

The bowl which it was served in was on par in size with a soup bowl, and the shaved ice was piled on more than double the height of the actual bowl! With spoons we scooped at the green matcha fairy floss; the whipped cream; the cubes of fresh strawberries; the shaved ice which tasted like a fluffy light cheese cake mixture; at the bottom there was a chocolate cookie base; and the additional strawberry jam syrup which you could add to your cheese cake snow…….*Heart shaped eyes emoji*.

A Bingsu is definitely something that you can’t….. Well, you can, but you shouldn’t, eat alone! As it’s so large and probably by the time you get to the bottom everything would have melted into a temperature cool soup.

So sharing is the design of a Bingsu, and I think everyone in the Ka-fey had the same idea. The only clientele in the store today were couples sitting shoulder to shoulder, sharing a Bingsu. Or a table-full of girls sharing all of their desserts with each other. Many many tables full of girls.

Although $14.90 is pretty steep for dessert, but we still think it’s still worth it as it is a labour intensive dessert to construct; and as business owners, you price products at a level at which the market would bear-  and it was clear that Sydney-siders were more than willing to pay $14.90 for the Bingsu (they also had brick toasts and drinks).

I think we’ll be back, the Strawberry Cheese Pie was very moreish, and I’m interested to try more of the dozen different flavour combinations on offer. Check-it out! It’s worth your while. And if you’re a single guy looking for love….. borrow one of those fluffy white puppies and come to Old School alone for a Bingsu. And I think this is your best chance of meeting ‘The One’, if the ratio of girls to guys is any indication of your potential to meet the ‘ONE’!