What started off as a small, South-East Asian iced desserts cafe in Burwood is now a multi-venue franchise across the Western suburbs of Sydney, supplying handmade ingredients to over 300 cafes, restaurants and juice bars. Gumballs has now rolled its franchise into the city, with its World Square venue bringing a taste of South-East Asia for CBD lunchers.
Gumballs was inspired by owner Angie Fo's memories waitressing as a child at her mother's cafe in Singapore. Angie wanted to serve up the South-East Asian street food that she craved but couldn't find after moving to Australia. Gumballs offers a range of cheap and filling lunches to satisfy anyone on the go. Try the ayam goreng and nasi lemak ($11.90), crispy fried chicken with traditional Malaysian style rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf, or the tender and spicy curry, beef rendang with nasi lemak ($11.90). There are also a range of BBQ skewers, where you can choose your desired meat and sides and a range of sauces to drizzle on top.
But the Gumballs specialties are the drinks and desserts — the shop's name refers to the chewy tapioca pearl, added to the endless list of refreshing ice drinks. Try the refreshing Lychee Fruity ($4.20) or the sweet Taro Milk Tea ($4.20). You can add extra jellies and pearls to any of the drinks for an extra 50c but for those who don’t think they’re ready for this jelly, there are freshly squeezed juices ($6) and shakes ($5) with a host of Asian fruits available like jackfruit, papaya and longan as well as homegrown favourites.
Don't leave without trying an iced dessert; the jellies are handmade by Angie's mother in the World Square kitchens. There’s the Singapore-style Ice Kachang ($4.80): shaved ice with red beans, agar agar jellies, evaporated milk and pandan syrup drizzled on top. Or the Indonesian Ice Chendol ($4.80): coconut milk with pandan and coconut jelly, red bean and palm sugar for a sweet and satisfying cold treat.
Seating is an issue in this venue-heavy dining space, and with just a few tables and chairs available, takeaway is your best bet. It’s not a glamorous dining experience, but you won't have to dig too deep in your pockets for this quick and refreshing taste of Malayasia, Singapore and beyond.