Sweet Lu patisserie cafe has opened up a new branch on Newtown's King Street. They sell Chinese style cakes as well as spins on the Portuguese custard tarts, ice cream sundaes and a range of drinks all cutely packaged up in their signature pink boxes.
Sweet Lu was founded by married duo Lucy Lu, creative designer and namesake and Steve Hou, a qualified aerospace engineer who both left their corporate roles to open up the patisserie café. The flagship store opened on Chinatown's George Street just before the COVID-19 shutdown but quickly amassed fans who would queue up for their cakes, tarts and drinks. In November 2022 they opened up a Newtown shop. "We wanted to offer a late night dessert option for Newtown too," says Steve. The Newtown location is bigger with a cafe level above the store where people can eat in. It is decorated with pink feathers with cute little tables and couples having cake dates.
Their ideas are inspired by seasonal ingredients. Steve says, "We test our recipes rigorously through trial and error until we are 100% happy with the final results. At this stage we ourselves love them so much we cannot stop eating them. This happened with our latest croissant range and “you tiao” (Chinese doughnut) croissant which we have everyday with our coffee." I buy a range of their best sellers to bring to a friend's house for dinner.
The grape hurricane and the mango and grapefruit are two of their most popular fruit slushies. The grape hurricane is refreshing and perfectly sweet but not overly so and is made with fresh grape juice, white pearls, green tea, cheese foams and crushed ice. The mango and grapefruit to me is more mango than grapefuit. If anything the grapefruit tempers the sweetness of the mango but doesn't make it tart enough to pucker your lips.
The Portuguese egg tarts are the most popular item and there are around 10 varieties available from strawberry, bubble tea, soymilk custard to dark chocolate or a pork floss and salted egg yolk for a savoury version. I try three: the durian marshmallow, mochi and chestnut. They're all sold warm and come in a cute little tart box. The mochi tart has a gloriously chewy centre of mochi while the chestnut has a topping of spaghetti piped chestnut puree and a half a crystallised chestnut on top. The most interesting is the durian and marshmallow. For durian fans Monica and Mr NQN, this is pure heaven. The durian aroma is only apparent once you cut into or bite into the tart and the melted marshmallow adds to the chewy, sweet appeal.
One of my favourite things was their mochi gelato (mochi lato) cup sundae. The house-made gelato is made using the traditional Italian method of making gelato. The Taro Mochi Lato has a scoop of gelato atop a soft, squishy, chewy mochi and a layer of sweet taro paste at the base of this one and taro boba on top. The real thrill is when you get to the bottom half with the stretchy chewy mochi and the sweet taro paste. Heaven. The day after I had this, I went back two days later for another. There are other flavours like hazelnut or chocolate and cherry too.
I always appreciate a good crepe cake because I know how much effort goes into making all of those crepe layers (and if you want to give it a go, try my crepe cake recipe here).. There was a bit of a miscommunication as I had ordered the black tea cake but they gave me the rose crepe cake. It is made up of many layers of soft crepe spread with rose cream and then topped with lychee flavoured jelly.
The rose lychee chiffon cake is made with soft chiffon cake spread with rose whipped cream and chopped lychees. Mr NQN loves this cake because of the amount of fruit in it. The boxes are adorable and ensure that the cakes make it home in perfect condition.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like Chinese style desserts? Are you a more a tart or cake person? And do you like mochi?
280 King Street, Newtown NSW 2042
Open 7 days 12pm-9pm (10pm Friday and Saturdays)