September 17th, 2012

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

This Week's Column - Icy Cool

Published in the City Hub, Inner West Independent and City News.

Sure I’m probably jumping the gun a smidgen, but all this blue sky has made me keen to wrap my lips around something cold and icy…

Given the recent explosion of Taiwanese food and drink outlets in Sydney recently, including a virtual Little Taiwan in Dixon Street Chinatown, it seemed time to check out one of the spearheads of this movement. Despite Chatime celebrating their third birthday yesterday, I had to admit upon walking in the door of their Broadway store, I didn’t really know much about bubble tea. It was almost embarrassing, especially in the face of this rapidly growing Taiwanese tea specialist. They boast nearly five hundred stores worldwide, and, as part of their birthday celebrations, they launched a new flagship store in the QVB, taking their Aussie complement up to thirty stores.

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When you enter one of their stores, you’re faced with a bewildering array of choices. Most of their drinks stem from six types of tea - Assam black tea, premium black tea, oolong tea, roasted tea, jasmine green tea, and brown rice green tea. If your head is already spinning (mine was), the Assam black tea is the closest to English Breakfast.

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From there you customise your beverage using an array of textures and flavours. While it’s hard to go past the customary chewy tapioca pearls, you can also add delicate, citrusy fig jelly; grapey aloe vera; or creamy egg custard. The level of sweetening is also totally up to you. As is whether you take your tea straight or milky – done using Australian Dairy Farmers’ Milk, as opposed to any powders.


It’s a lot to take in, especially when you’re just after a cool icy drink, so I suggest on your first visit you rely upon their menu of bestsellers. The Matcha Green Tea Latte was so compelling; it has already drawn me back for another. On a hot day, I’d also return for a refreshing cup of Lychee Black Tea with aloe vera. I’ve even downed an egg custard enriched Coconut Milk Tea (in lieu of breakfast) as I rushed through the Devonshire Street tunnel on a particularly hectic day. Yes, I guess I’m on my way to being an icy cool convert…

Chatime on Urbanspoon

I also partook of something of something cold and icy at the launch of O Bar and Dining last week. It’s the revamped Summit, atop Australia Square. Hobknobbing with Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Layne Beachley, I found there is nothing like looking down on a rotating view of the glittering city (forty-seven floors below) to work up an appetite. Luckily celebrity chef Michael Moore made sure we were well looked after in this regard, with tiny wagyu burgers, and spoons of kingfish pastrami with coriander, citrus and cumin. Pull up your own comfortable lounge and watch the world spin by some time soon – the private dining room is also worth a look.

Highest on my icy treat wishlist is a visit to the Grill’d store in Crows Nest. They’re currently trialing Rekorderlig Swedish cider slushies. I suspect if we all campaign hard enough, they might roll them out to the other stores in time for summer…

I have had a chance to work my way through the new Connoisseur Australian Collection. They got a number of dessert chefs from across the country to come up with four flavours. My favourite was Darren Purchese’s (from South Yarra’s Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio) Murray River Salted Caramel with Chocolate Coated Hazelnuts. Be warned: flavours are not as intense as Connoisseur’s regular range…

Just in case the weather turns, I thought I’d include one hot item – the hottest dinner ticket in town – but you’ll have to hurry, it’s on Monday 24th September. The venue is Erez Gordon’s latest addition to his growing Sydney portfolio – Crown Street Assembly. The dinner, which gives you the duelling talent of three chefs (Darren Templeman from Restaurant Atelier, Phil Whitmarsh from Lochiel House, and Paul Cooper from the venue itself) promises to bring all your piggy dreams to life in five courses for $95/head. If you can’t get to the dinner, Erez has thoughtfully made sure you can enjoy it virtually by following #swinedining on Twitter.