For Mica Chan, Sydney’s buzzing coffee scene was enough to make her want to jump careers. So she quit her job at an accounting office and decided to rent some unused retail space off her parents in Surry Hills.
“I was thinking, ‘what can I do with the shop?’ and a café seemed like a good idea, because I love the coffee culture,” Chan tells SBS. She enlisted the help of her two best friends – one on coffee, one on food, the latter being former Tetsuya’s and Kenginston Street Social chef Lee Li.
“The whole menu was designed by Li and I working together,” Chan says. “We have a very strong influence of Asian culture (Chinese and Japanese) so we wanted to create something that’s a bit different from the traditional Australian café.
“We wanted to show Australian people what Asian culture is like, what we usually eat daily for breakfast and for lunch as well.”
Chan and Li’s childhood breakfast traditions from their home town of Shunde near China's Guangzhou province play out in Meet Mica’s lobster congee: an indulgent lobster and prawn shell broth with a creamy boost via a slow-cooked onsen egg, topped with grilled lobster tail. It’s a decadent spin on the classic Chinese rice breakfast bowl.
“The concept of congee came from me and chef Lee’s home town – we grew up in a little town and every morning, everyone has congee as a breakfast – it doesn’t matter if it’s fish congee or chicken congee. To have the lobster with the congee, we just wanted to boost the congee up to the next level.”
Next up in the running for Insta glory is the Matcha French lava toast: a Japanese-style brick of battered bread with green tea ‘lava’ oozing out, served with a side of condensed milk.
There’s a cute ‘san-do-ichi’ bento box comprised of three finger sambos (one being a Japanese egg roll with nori furikake, mayo and lettuce) served with edamame and lotus chips. And a crab and egg-stuffed Luxe bakery croissant is topped with buttered corn and fish roe to round out the richness stakes (read: not for the faint-hearted.)
The space was designed by Sydney's MarkCo with blonde woods upholding a Japanese-meets-Nordic ethos. Coffee is by local boutique roasters The Little Marionette with single origin on rotation; Reuben Hills are on the current playlist. Tippity Teas are looking after the loose leaf side of things.
“Because we are from an Asian background, we know that with green teas, you need to treat it very finely so we don’t just pour the water in – we measure the temperature. Tippity Teas do a very good green tea,” Chan assures. “It’s very important – in China, we drink tea every day, so we know how important the tea quality is.”
Meet Mica is open Mon-Fri 7am–3pm; Sat-Sun 8am–4pm
Shop 5, 492-500 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills