As we gear up for the holidays, spare a thought for those businesses impacted by Gladys Berejiklian’s terrible mishandling of the Sydney Light Rail project.
Venues like Haven Specialty Coffee are staring down the barrel of another peak season impacted by construction noise, dust and ugly barricades.
With their outside tables made completely redundant, and their door (by necessity) closed, their semi-industrial dining room with its concrete floors and exposed fittings feels like a relative oasis of calm inside this war zone.
Faced with such an intense environment, I crave soothing more than stimulation, so I skip over their curated coffee mainstay in favour of Milky Oolong Tea ($5). Of Taiwanese origin, this tea (also called Jin Xuan) is named because it has a light, almost creamy flavour that is sometimes compared to milk. To me it tastes and smells like white flowers, somewhere in between gardenias and jasmine. The flavour is naturally occurring and comes from allowing the tea leaves to ferment and partially oxidise. Green tea by comparison is not fermented and oxidised, while black tea is fully fermented and oxidised which changes its colour. While milky oolong drinks gently and appealingly without the addition of sugar or milk, if you’re keen for something sweeter, try it as Dragon’s Breath Iced Tea ($6). Here the milky oolong has been teamed with apple and honey into a pretty summer drink.
The menu, which has had regular updates since my initial visit in 2015, still tends towards wacky fusion. Kimchi-Ken ($17) teams a Hong Kong style egg waffle with Korean-style fried chicken. The kimchi is integrated into the waffle batter itself, with large chunks of cabbage combining with the crisp waffle. The fried chook is dusted some snow cheese-like sweetness that is countered with the chilli bite in the rest of the dish. It’s definitely a dish that strokes all of your palate.
Billed as “a bit spicy” the K-Pork Steak Sandwich ($16) gives you a classic ciabatta bread sanga stuffed with Korean-style marinated pork neck steaks, pickled apples, pickled radishes and purple cabbage ‘slaw. The hot stuff isn’t actually on the sandwich, so you’ll have to deconstruct to add the sauce, which I reckon is required to make this dish tasty. My only complaint is the kitchen didn’t drain the accompanying kimchi, which made my second half sanga soggy on the sharply curved plate.
Haven Specialty Coffee
34 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9281 9300
NOTE: See a previous review for this venue back HERE.