The Dessert Kitchen opened fittingly in Sydney in the middle of our 2016/17 Summer. While they’ve had their store in Melbourne for a while, this is the first store in Sydney for the 10-year-old Chinese cafe chain, which specialises in health-conscious desserts that contain a minimal amount of fat and sugar. Low sugar desserts were just what we needed in during a summer marked by heatwave upon endless heatwave. It seems long ago now.
This is Purple in Love Shaved Ice ($12.80) with Kyoho grape seaweed balls, grape shaved ice, mini rice balls, grapes and taro mochi ice cream. This was a winner is the Hong Kong Gran Cuisine Awards in 2009.
The grape flavour of the shaved ice (crushed, not shaved) was delicious — not too strong, nor too syrupy — and recalled the Kyohou & Honey by Sugi Bee Garden. That and the fact that the grapes were seedless were the highlights. While the seaweed balls (their arrangement reminds us of Buddha headdress!) had the sweet and bright flavour of Kyohou grapes that we enjoy, their hard, almost crunchy non-dissolving texture with none of the firm and melty squishiness of jelly was not a hit. Neither was mochi ice cream a hit — not only does taro not jump to complement the flavour of grape, they tasted like chocolate with a terribly mushy texture. Once you’re half way through, the shaved ice turns into grape flavoured soup and you’re left to scoop through it.
This is their Ujikintoki Traditional Japanese Style Shaved Ice ($11.50) with green tea shaved ice, red bean, mini rice balls, and red bean vanilla ice cream.
The matcha flavour on the shaved ice (crushed, not shaved!) was a hit, with a very healthy dose of vegetal green tea notes, and definitely one for those who appreciate the slightly bitter notes of matcha. After a while, the matcha mixes with the condensed milk of the shaved ice to create a delicious matcha latte flavour with the plump and juicy red beans adding pops of flavour to break up the matcha. The vanilla ice cream looked and tasted a lot like compressed shaved ice, giving it a pleasantly fluffy texture punctuated by pops of red bean. The one downside were the rice balls, which would’ve fared better if they were more like dango as these were far too soft and soggy.
After getting crushed rather than shaved ice, we go back for their proper Mango Shaved Ice ($11.50). The shaved ice is light and fluffy with a gentle bite, holding its shape without melting immediately upon eating or turning into liquid on the plate. The mango flavour in the shaved ice is fresh with a gentle sweetness and the canned mango fruit is pleasant, rather than the intensely sweet syrup or the terribly sour canned mangoes used at MeetFresh. We’re still not a fan of the rice balls but the Nato de Coco jelly has its signature bounce.
And finally, this is the Matcha Red Bean Eggettes ($11.00). I’ve a minor eggette obsession at the moment and these are green tea flavoured, topped with whipped cream, azuki beans and green tea ice cream.
The eggettes had a pleasantly strong green tea flavour with a gentle sweetness. We were surprised to find no red bean in the eggettes themselves. but the pleasantness of the green tea flavour made up for that. The red bean paste is sweet and nutty, with the green tea ice cream having a gentle bitterness to counter the sweetness of the eggettes.
Flecks of green tea can be seen in the eggette batter, which has a light green colour and a crispy edge.
Overall, The Dessert Kitchen serves up decent Chinese desserts with the properly shaved ice and the eggettes being the highlights and items to draw us back.
The Dessert Kitchen is at 78 Harbour St, Haymarket NSW 2000.