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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Good coffee aside, we were really here for the egg waffles! This is Sexy Me ($16.50).
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.
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.
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.
N tries the Hokkaido Red Bean & Matcha ($16.50), with Hokkaido red beans, coconut cream, matcha ice-cream, matcha sauce and classic plain waffle.
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.
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.