Is that a xia long bao or chocolate mousse? and how much matcha is too much-a? are questions you might ask yourself at Dulcet Cakes and Sweets. At the Burwood and newly opened Haymarket sweets shop, good friends Vivienne Li and Juno Zhu have taken their love of making Asian-skewed desserts and cakes to artful new heights.
Li and Zhu met in the pastry kitchen of Sydney's Sheraton on the Park (Zhu had previously done time at the three-hatted Quay) after honing their rolling pin skills at the touted Le Cordon Bleu school.
"To be honest, I never really baked anything before I went to Le Cordon Bleu," Li tells SBS Food. "I had no idea how to bake so I learned everything from scratch when I was there. Back in China, it's not like in Australia where everybody has an open home and people bake a cake for the Sunday roast or something.
"For us in China, cake is not an essential thing, and bread is not normal table dining food."
"Back in China, it's not like in Australia where everybody has an open home and people bake a cake for the Sunday roast or something."
Arriving in Australia just a few years ago, it wasn't long before the pair realised they had a knack for using traditional French techniques to turn Asian ingredients into sublime creations. They call their sweets "Japanese-skewed" with French backing, and Dulcet's signature 20-layer durian crepe cake is case in point: layer upon layer of Musang King durian crepes (Li says the Musang King is the best and most expensive variety) sandwiched between French pastry cream. The entire production can take up to nine hours to complete and comes in matcha and chocolate flavours.
You'll also find a black sticky rice yoghurt cake, a taro swiss roll, matcha double cheesecake (they import the touted Marukuyu-Koyamaen matcha powder from Japan for all their green tea treats) and a black sesame chiffon cake on the menu, which Li says are huge in Japan and Korea at the moment. And do yourselves a favour and check out their out-of-this-world celebration and mousse cakes.
Li and Zhu travel to Japan and Asia twice yearly to lug back the latest dessert and flavour trends. They're also passionate about keeping things low in sugar to maximise their natural flavours.
"A lot of our Asian customers find the local sweets too strong for them – they prefer very mild favours, so for our desserts, we were using less sugar," Li says.
Their Burwood shop, which opened in 2017, was such a hit that they have just launched a Haymarket branch of Dulcet after some customers complained about the commute. The Chinatown Dulcet doesn't serve Little Marionette coffee like their Burwood big sister (things are a tad cramp for a machine) but they are churning some seriously good soft serve there. It's probably the only place in town where you can find a frozen version of Taiwan's wildly popular Hot-Kid milk. Run, don't walk, friends.
Prince Centre, TG4/8 Quay St, Haymarket and 31 Belmore St, Burwood
Earthy matcha tea, nutty red bean paste and juicy strawberries infuse a classically French recipe with the unmistakable flavours of Japan.
These crispy morsels are salty–sweet with an edge of bitterness from the matcha powder. They’re fantastic just with yoghurt, or use the clusters as the ultimate crunchy topping on your favourite smoothie bowl.