“A party without cake is really just a meeting.”
– Julia Child (1912-2004), American chef, author and star of TV cooking shows before TV chefs became fashionable
5 Top Places for Sweets in the City: Part 3
The way to my heart is through a sponge cake. I have simple tastes.
Ever since discovering the artisan Azuma chiffon cakes, I promised to give myself a whole 21-cm, 10-serve cake in its unadorned glory for my birthday.
Go ahead, mock me for paying $38 for a sponge cake, but Azuma Patisserie’s pillowy creations are in a league of their own. They’re the Rolls Royces of sponge cakes.
Besides, I’m doing all right if the price of my birthday present is lower than my age, wouldn’t you agree?
My vanilla-flecked birthday cake was so sublime it was practically illegal. Not that you can tell from the picture – blogging is such a limited medium.
Below: $38 for a 10-serve cake (order ahead), or $4.80 per slice.
Azuma Patisserie does chiffon sponges like Hermès does handbags.
In flavours like:
~ Earl Grey,
~ black sesame,
~ green tea.
Soft as a cumulus cloud. Velvety without being greasy.
So light that I can eat a piece of cake bigger than a Bose speaker and still love myself in the morning.
The flavours – so intense in the cakes – should have been written in ALL-CAPS SHOUTY CASE in the display counter, especially in the case of these flavours for which I have a (oh dear) soft spot.
Flavour #1: Green Tea Chiffon
If the matcha (powdered green tea) in this cake were coffee, I’d be climbing the walls, it’s that strong.
Flavour #2: Black Sesame Chiffon
Like Richard Branson, this one is rich and a little nutty.
Heavily flecked with vanilla seeds, this is more freckled than Lindsay Lohan pre-2005. It is redolent with the very essence of vanilla-ness.
Plain, sweet, fragrant.
If you have more, ahem, vanilla tastes and prefer things in their original flavour, this one is for you.
Shares first place with the Vanilla Chiffon as my favourite Azuma chiffon cake flavour.
Location, Location, Location
Azuma Patisserie is a stone’s throw from Sydney’s Town Hall station, in the HSBC Centre facing George Street.
The charming al fresco tea garden gets top marks for effort, though I’ve never sat there for any of my 10 (!) visits because of buses roaring down George Street.
TIP: Walk around the corner into the HSBC Centre food court to score authentic Malaysian fare from the venerable Alice’s Makan:
Now for a bit of intel…
…just to show this blog isn’t all about food porn. Not always, anyway. 😉
Chef Kimitaka Azuma is the owner of the eponymous Azuma Patisserie. This guy has been in the Japanese dining game for so long that what he doesn’t know about Japanese cuisine isn’t worth knowing.
Chef Azuma has been plating up Japanese cuisine for over 40 years, having started his culinary training as a teenager with traditional taskmasters:
“The way of the Japanese culture meant that if a superior said that the sky was red – when clearly it is not – I still had to agree!”
He is best known for Azuma, his 17-year-old Japanese fine-dining restaurant, now located in glamorous digs at Chifley Plaza.
A striking memory is of a visit to Azuma Restaurant’s earlier incarnation in Crows Nest.
We sat at a counter, watching the chef’s fluid movements. We were delighted to be in a place so authentic that our fellow diner was a salaryman supping solo.
Noticing we couldn’t read the Japanese menu (an English menu is available these days – and website and Facebook page too), Chef Azuma kindly offered to design a meal for us within our specified budget.
And what a meal: subtle yet surprising flavours. Jewel-bright sashimi on ice. Hand-made crockery. A generous, genial chef…
…all ingredients for an indelible memory of a birthday – nearly 20 years ago now… *Lapses into a daydream.*
I spent more than my age on that day. But then again, I had a lower age and higher sustenance.
This an uncommissioned, independent review.
FITK has spent more on sponge cakes this year than in a lifetime – happily so.