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Five Cult Japanese Desserts You Can Find in Sydney

When your next holiday is too far away, try baked cheese tarts, shaved ice desserts and jiggly soufflé pancakes.
By Leisha Kapor
February 26, 2020
By Leisha Kapor
February 26, 2020


When your next holiday is too far away, try baked cheese tarts, shaved ice desserts and jiggly soufflé pancakes.

There are a lot of things Japanese cuisine does right. Ramen, sushi, teppanyaki — it's all had its time in the sun of the Australian foodie scene, and for good reason. In recent years, though, Sydney has wholeheartedly embraced the sweet life, with plenty of Japanese and Japanese-inspired dessert companies bringing their goods to the people Down Under.

Here in Australia, eateries and dessert shops, like their Japanese counterparts, are usually met with long lines and Instagram-happy customers eager to try the much-photographed sweets. To help you on your mission to try all the cult Japanese desserts Sydney has to offer, here are five to add to the top of your list.

  • 5

    With over 70 stores worldwide, Uncle Tetsu finally opened its first Australian store back in 2017. Opening its doors on George Street, it’s serving up Japanese cheesecakes to seemingly never-ending lines of fans. While the menu has since grown to include variations on the titular dish and a few other Japanese sweets, all you’re really there for is a snow-white cake with a golden burnished top, branded with the signature Uncle Tetsu stamp. The cake in question is incredibly light and fluffy. There is no biscuit base, as the style dictates, and, having been baked in a water bath, the sides are moist like pudding. As for the taste, it’s eggy and pancake-y, with little sweetness. Resist the temptation to eat it all at once. When you cool it in the fridge it grows denser and crumbly, with a soft, sweet cheese flavour.

    Image: Ryan La

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  • 4

    The newest kid on the block, Gram Cafe & Pancakes opened its first Australian store in February 2020, after its sky-high soufflé pancakes earned a cult following across Asia and the US. To make sure each pancake is as light and fluffy as its Osaka counterparts (where the OG store is located), the Sydney chefs have been trained by the big boss from Japan. They’re whipping up a batter heavy with egg whites, steaming it under metal domes and then cooking it until its golden on the outside and white and fluffy on the inside. For $18.90, you’ll get a stack of three ultra-light pancakes, each with a soufflé consistency and drizzled with syrup. We’re told only limited numbers of the soufflé pancakes are available each day, so we suggest you head in earlier rather than later.

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  • 3

    A Japanese take on the old-school Aussie milk bar, Dopa by Devon has more than twenty varieties of donburi (Japanese rice bowls). But, obviously, that’s not what we’re here for right now. Amid a popular sweets menu of matcha toast, OTT parfaits and loaded milkshakes, you’ll find shaved ice desserts. The kakigori (Japanese shaved ice dessert) is sweet, surprisingly creamy and refreshing. Although perhaps that’s not too surprising, considering the dish is just shaved ice, fresh fruit and gelato. There are matcha and strawberry varieties on the menu, but keep an eye out for seasonal specials, like this summer’s mango kakigori, served with Yakult gelato and fresh Queensland mangoes.

    Image: Kimberley Low

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  • 2

    While they may have a French name, mille crêpe cakes are actually said to have been been created by a Japanese pastry chef. As the story goes, Kazuko Emy Wada invented and started serving them at her first Lady M shop in Tokyo in the 80s, and now you’ll find them at bakeries and cake shops across the globe — and even at Japanese 7-Elevens. In Sydney, make tracks to Dulcet Cakes & Sweets to find the light, but textured and very impressive looking multi-layered cake in flavours such as chocolate, durian and black sesame flavours. But the star? A 20-layer matcha crepe cake.

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  • 1
    Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart

    Okay, so this company is technically from Malaysia, but its namesake is definitely Japanese. And the baked cheese tart is a dessert you’ll see sold at many shops across Japan, too. A savoury-sweet three-cheese situation, it’s encased in a shortcrust shell and designed to be eaten either hot or cold. The cheese, while made with local produce, is based on the distinct taste and texture of the dairy products of Hokkaido. The Japanese island is known for its dairy — it produces half of Japan’s total milk and a huge 90 percent of its natural cheese — and Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart have worked tirelessly to replicate it. You can get your hands on these tasty baked cheese tarts at World Square, North Ryde, Burwood and Chatswood.

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