Haven, Surry Hills

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Somehow a con­ver­sa­tion about mochi pan­cakes in Chatswood led to remin­isces of mochi waffles at Hana Hana (now closed). Mochi waffles led to the Hong Kong street snack of egg waffles, which finally brought N and I (with T in tow) to the egg waffles at Haven in Surry Hills.

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But first off, hydra­tion. Table water comes with a stick of bin­chotan or ‘white char­coal’ to puri­fy the tap water. White Charcoal is the highest grade of char­coal and has been used for cen­tur­ies in Asia for its puri­fy­ing, enrich­ing and res­tor­at­ive bene­fits. T made a big fuss about how the water tasted bad, but N and I agreed that it tasted some­thing between tap and filtered water. It was cer­tainly drinkable.

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Having already tried two of their three ‘Tea Mocktails’, this is the third: Perfume ($6.00), made with a cold brewed jas­mine tea base fla­voured with rose and lime with a touch of honey. The rose notes are pleas­antly strong from the first sip with the mel­low­er notes of jas­mine green tea and the refresh­ing mild acid­ity of the lime com­ing through towards the end of the sip. N tried the Dragon again, and com­pared to our exper­i­ence a year earli­er, the mock­tails taste a lot weak­er, even though the glasses have got­ten big­ger and the price has stayed the same. They were more fla­vour­some before.

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T, with a pen­chant for cof­fee, tries their most expens­ive: the Geisha ($9.00), and 8-hour cold brew (also avail­able as a V60 pour over) that comes with frozen rocks to keep the cold cof­fee cool and almonds to enhance the sweet­ness of the coffee.

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I love the smell of cof­fee and this is truly an aro­mat­ic pleas­ure. It’s also a delight to drink black. Just as the tast­ing pro­file describes, this cof­fee is full body with a silky mouth­feel, with com­plex flor­al and cit­rus notes and a linger­ing pleas­ant aftertaste.

I was curi­ous after see­ing Geisha lis­ted as the vari­et­al rather than being used as a fancy name for a cof­fee, so I’ve since dis­covered that Geisha is a rare spe­cialty cof­fee from Panama that has won awards for its taste that takes on the fla­vour of south­ern Ethiopian cof­fees, but without the usu­al inter­fer­ing tan­nin fla­vours to leave a pleas­ant flor­al sweet­ness instead. So, much like what gyok­uro is to green tea, I suspect.

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Good cof­fee aside, we were really here for the egg waffles! This is Sexy Me ($16.50).

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The Sexy Me has black ses­ame cream mochi, black ses­ame sauce, ses­ame chips, vanilla bean ice cream, lem­on zest, mint and a clas­sic plain waffle.

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The egg waffle was sweet with an egg-rich fla­vour, although not as crispy as I recall the ones from Hong Kong, where it’s one of the most pop­u­lar ‘street snacks’.

The menu lists a black ses­ame cream mochi, but from taste and visu­als I’m con­vinced it’s a black sug­ar cream mochi. The chewy mochi and the soft­ness of the cream was an inter­est­ing and tasty tex­tur­al change and reminded me of those from Mochicream in Kanazawa, Japan.

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The ice cream was a good con­trast to the warm­er egg waffle and mochi, while the black and white ses­ame seeds togeth­er with the gritty black ses­ame paste and the ses­ame chips gave the egg waffle an unmis­tak­able tex­tur­al explo­sion of black ses­ame fla­vour. I love when the fla­vour of black ses­ame hits me at full force, which is quite rare giv­en the mel­low­ness of the fla­vour, which is eas­ily overpowered.

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N tries the Hokkaido Red Bean & Matcha ($16.50), with Hokkaido red beans, coconut cream, matcha ice-cream, matcha sauce and clas­sic plain waffle.

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The unsweetened matcha sauce was slightly warm — so as not to melt the ice cream — and poured from a tea pot. N would have pre­ferred a bright­er green tea fla­vour to counter the strong fla­vour of the red bean.

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Overall, N and I enjoyed Haven Cafe’s mod­ern take on the tra­di­tion­al Hong Kong street snack of egg waffles, although it’s more of a one time treat than some­thing we’d return to eat again. As for their cof­fee, I can see why there’s a con­stant stream of cus­tom­ers through­out the day!

Haven is loc­ated at 30 – 34 Chalmers St, Surry Hills NSW 2010.