• Meet your matcha. (LuxBite)Source: LuxBite
Melbourne's LuxBite also has a tribute to a dessert that's better than the original – and a stunning Lunar New Year range.
By
Audrey Bourget

5 Feb 2019 - 12:10 PM  UPDATED 5 Feb 2019 - 2:37 PM

“A lot of people say that they knew that they were going to be a chef when they were children, but often it’s just marketing. But I really knew I was going to do this when I was three,” Bernard Chu tells SBS Food.

He recalls spending time in his grandfather’s bakery in Malaysia: “He only had three products: choux pastry, butter cake and a nicely done coconut jam on buttered toast. I would run around, being helpful – well, not really - and my grandpa would make me weigh some sugar.”

Bernard Chu at his LuxBite store.

Chu and his partner Yen Yee moved to Sydney 16 years ago. After studying pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu, they worked in some of the city’s best kitchens (Quay, Rockpool Bar & Grill).

In late 2011, they opened LuxBite in South Yarra. The idea was to blend traditional French techniques with Asian flavours. “I wanted to share my childhood memories, what we grew up with and what we have back home,” explains Chu.

If the Australian palate has gotten more adventurous in recent years, it wasn't always like this.

“When we first started, we used matcha and nobody knew what it was, we had to educate people, tell them green tea and matcha are different. We’d use yuzu and we’d tell people it’s like a Japanese lemon, but bitter and fragrant, and they’d say we should just call it lemon,” he says.

But the couple didn’t let that deter them.

“To be honest, we don’t really care, we do what we want,” he says, laughing. “These days, I’m very proud of the food scene in Australia, it has changed a lot.”

LuxBite has since won the hearts of Melburnians, who don’t hesitate anymore to order a lava salted egg “bo lo baau” croissant or a coconut/calamansi macaron.

“We change our menu a lot and people hate it because they see something on Instagram today, but when they come three weeks later, it’s gone,” says Chu.

“When we first started, we used matcha and nobody knew what it was, we had to educate people."

Luckily, there is a signature range that’s always available, including the Kuma cake (inspired by milkshake flavours) and the Meringue Monster (a green tea sponge with watermelon yoghurt and sour strawberry mousse).

Another popular creation is the Endless Love, an homage to the Ispahan dessert by Chu’s hero, Pierre Hermé.

Rose cream, lychee and fresh strawberries are sandwiched between two large macarons with lychee ganache. Chu claims it’s even better than the original.

In addition to the signature range, the LuxBite team also regularly comes up with new creations, like the bubble-tea croissant: a traditional croissant filled with custard and tapioca balls.

At the moment, the custard is flavoured with matcha from Kyoto.

“We change the flavour every month. We did original bubble tea, taro, brown sugar, honeydew, and now, matcha should last until mid-February,” says Chu.

“A croissant filled with cream, it’s not a big thing in Australia, and I don’t think it exists in France, but we grew up with that,” he adds.

Funky croissants are definitely trendy right now, but the bubble-tea version is actually good, not just fashionable. The matcha prevents the dessert from being overly sweet, and there’s a great texture contrast between the flaky pastry, the custard and the chewy tapioca balls.

The Chinese New Year range has also just hit the South Yarra store with beautiful Mandarin (for good luck) and Peach (for longevity) cakes, salted egg cookies and edible greeting cards.

Chu is very upfront about the fact that his team – junior and senior – has created many items on his menu. “Part of our philosophy when we started was that we have no secrets in this kitchen. I share what I know and I also learn from young people,” he says. “At LuxBite, we don’t say ‘this is my way, we’ll do that forever’. That’s why our products change all the time. We try to give young people a platform to shine.”

All LuxBite’s creations are sold at the South Yarra store (order online so you don’t miss out), but only the signature range is available in the T by Luxbite CBD branch. And while Chu has done a few collaborations and has received offers to open stores all around the world (one dedicated shopper even brought bubble-tea croissants to Seoul and London), he prefers to focus on Melbourne for now. 

“I don’t care if we’re not known [by] everyone, people love the idea of an independent shop. People come all the way from Camberwell and Doncaster, they drive on a Sunday to eat cake and go home. We’re very touched by that,” he says.

 

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LuxBite

38 Toorak Road, South Yarra, Vic, (03) 9867 5888

Mon – Sat 8 am – 7 pm

Sun 10 am – 6 pm

T by LuxeBite (takeaway only)

28 Katherine Pl, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9629 9662

Mon – Fri 10 am – 6 pm

 


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