When it comes to age-old snacks, the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” generally rings true. But Melbourne's KitKat Chocolatory proves that if you can customise it, it’ll become so much better.
Australia’s only KitKat store is located in the middle of Melbourne Central. It’s been open for about a year and is proving to be a huge temptation for chocolate-covered wafer enthusiasts everywhere. Here, KitKat blocks are designed and made in-house or imported from Japan.
The Chocolatory's drawcard is the 'design-your-own' KitKat, created by punching your order into a touchscreen terminal along with your customised packaging (or you can order online and pick-up your KitKat in store later). Your order is then sent to a laboratory back-of-house, where specially-trained KitKat makers meticulously craft your order, step-by-step. This special, minimalist lab is visible through a window at the front of the store and you can watch the coming-to-life of your eight-finger block.
Choose three ingredients from a selection of 16, including salted caramel fudge, rose petals, pretzels, salted potato chips, peppermint cracknel and dried hibiscus. This goes into your chocolate of choice, milk, dark or white. You're then asked to name your flavour — there's a good chance no one has ordered your combination before, with the number of permutations available in the hundreds.
The word 'artisan' is thrown around haphazardly these days, but when you're watching how the chocolatier mixes your chosen ingredients, sprinkles the blend into a mould and carefully drizzles liquid chocolate over the top to fill it up, it's hard to deny that the product is a handcrafted masterpiece.
Then, the crunch is added. This is tricky — the signature wafer must be dropped into the melted chocolate at a very particular angle so that it sits in the middle of the chocolate block.
"This is the most difficult step for our chocolatiers to learn," says head chocolatier Connie Yuen.
Another layer of chocolate is then smoothed over everything and left to set for an hour. Finally, it's packaged in a box with the new flavour's name over an artsy design of your choice — the ultimate gift or self-treat.
Yuen spends a lot of her time experimenting with ingredients and new combinations, flavours and seasonal specials.
For Christmas, there are a number of specials including candy cane or green mango pavlova. "We spend time creating flavours for different holidays of the year, like Lunar New Year, Valentine's Day and Easter," says Yuen. And all of this is made fresh, in-house.
"We always get people coming in and asking about the huge variety of Japanese KitKat flavours available, so we've brought in a range to help our customers explore the boutique-y side of Kit Kat," Yuen says. "They're derived from freeze-dried fruit — so they're quite a fresh tasting product."
If you're a Kit Kat connoisseur, you'll be dazzled at the off-the-shelf range available. Right now there's the tea range — you can choose from delicate floral or Earl Grey flavours. Then there's the Sublime range, which includes super smooth chocolate blends and the ever-popular matcha flavour. The artisan range offers KitKat fingers decorated with dried fruit, petals and nuts, and for Christmas you can pick up colourful ornaments bursting with tiny KitKat bites, too.
Mon–Wed and Sat 10am–7pm, Thurs–Fri 10am–9pm and Sun 10am–6pm.
Melbourne Central, Level 1, Shot Tower Square, 211 La Trobe Street, Melbourne, VIC.
Love the story? Follow the author on Instagram @jono_ford.