Did you know green is my favourite colour? No, of course you didn’t – this isn’t an “ask me anything” Tumblr page. But while we’re on the topic, let’s talk about matcha (a specific type of green tea powder). It can be drunk, made into desserts, or just about anything really – its versatility is bound only by one’s imagination. In sweet treats, its complex flavour has no replacement.
Enter Cafe Cre Asion. In the span of less than four weeks, it has become one of my favourite cafes in Sydney. Matcha lovers? Welcome the Cre Asion invasion.
Date Last Visited: 5/6/15
Address: 21 Alberta Street, CBD, Sydney, NSW
Recommended Dish(es): matcha latte, matcha fondant, matcha & macadamia cookies, braised pork neck sandwich
First impressions can be mixed – It’s a very small cafe, only comfortably seating around 10 or so people. As a result, seating is cramped, and you will find yourself uncomfortably close to other cafe hoppers. They will literally be right next to you, almost rubbing shoulders.
Another problem is that tables are knee-height. For tall guys and gals, this means seating very awkwardly with legs spread wide, or shifting them to one side and hope your knees don’t bang against something, or more likely – someone. Also, my back started hurting after awhile, as I’m forced to bend over to eat my food. Your best bet? Make it a quick visit – you’ll do those waiting in line a huge favour as well.
I didn’t start off on a good note, but I was getting my biggest gripe with Cre Asion out of the way – the rest of the cafe? It’s gold.
Cre Asion has actually been around for quite some time, but only recently have I discovered this hole in the wall. The secret is out! In less than a month, the Lady and I have visited Cre Asion four times, such is our obsession with their matcha-based dishes.
To be fair, there isn’t too much competition out there, but of what little there is, Cre Asion blows them out of the water. For those that dig the bittersweet, astringency of this magical tea leaf powder, Cre Asion definitely does not leave you dissatisfied. Let’s start with the matcha muffin.
It’s not just a matcha muffin – it’s actually a matcha, cream cheese & adzuki (red bean) muffin. This was actually our least favourite matcha product and yet I still totally mouth-first into this…cre-asion.
Ok, bad puns are now out of my system. At least, on this occ-asion.
Ok, third time’s the charm. Onto the muffin.
Red bean and cream cheese, while seemingly an odd combination, works. The cream cheese moistened the muffin which improved its texture, while the red bean provided the classic sweetness that all Asians are evolutionarily programmed to love. Matcha powder is both dusted on top and blended into the muffin mixture itself, which means the flavour is quite strong, and holds balance with the sweetness of the red bean.
On the downside, if it weren’t for the cream cheese, the muffin itself is actually quite dry and crumbly, a surprising conclusio. One thing a muffin should not be, is dry. The cream cheese does mitigate this to an extent, but it should not be the answer – it should proverbial icing.
A good muffin, but not exceptional, thus allowing us, on each subsequent visit to substitute the…*drum roll*
…Matcha fondant. As far as I’m concerned, this is their signature dish. Yep, even more so than their macarons (though full disclaimer – I’ve yet to have them). This fondant is:
- The best matcha dessert I’ve ever had (on par with Via Tokyo)
- The best fondant cake I’ve ever had
- A dish I’ve ordered every time I’ve visited Cre Asion
I didn’t want to talk about it this way, as I sound exactly like a hype machine, which is not what I want to be – up-selling it to the point where it could never live up to your expectations.
However, I stand by my words – as I do with every word on this blog. There’s something about cre Asion’s fondant that keeps me coming back for more, and more, and more.
Perhaps it’s the gooey, bittersweet matcha/chocolate centre. Perhaps it’s the unctuous chocolate cake. Or maybe it’s the fact that it’s served warm, with the matcha lava oozing out when you cut into it that sends chills up my spine.
It’s all of the above, creating a product that far exceeds the sum of its parts.
Sure, it’s expensive as a ‘pastry counter item’ goes, at $8.5 for dine-in ($6.5 takeaway). But when you consider a lava cake dessert at a restaurant usually comes in the high-$10s, this is a relative bargain. Plus, as of last week, Cre Asion provides an additional matcha sauce on the side which you can pour onto the fondant for extra gooeyness. Look out for this on my Instagram – you can be sure I’ll be back to shoot it for you!
It’s not all fun and games though – when you’ve had this four times, you’re sure to encounter inconsistencies. For example, one time, our fondant was overdone – there was no ooziness upon cutting into it, and as such, resembled a more standard chocolate/matcha cake with no liquid centre. That was a shame, as a fondant cake absolutely must have a lava-like centre. A problem which happened 1/4 times; one I hope doesn’t recur.
Evidently, it mattered little – because we just kept on coming back. After all, it’s not just the matcha that deserves talking about. Did you know Cre Asion actually serves savouries?
That came out much more sarcastic in my head…
Cre Asion’s core savouries consists of a lineup of toasted sandwiches, which can optionally be served in the form of a salad with bread on the side. Sandwiches range from $11-13, while a salad is a flat $13. Why is the salad more expensive? Because you get more – a soft-boiled egg and avocado, along with salad leaves, to be exact. These three additions add to the actual content of what would have been the sandwich filling.
The Lady’s choice was the poached free range chicken w/wasabi mayo. This is widely regarded as Cre Asion’s best sandwich, and it’s not hard to see why. Everything comes together, like it was a matcha made in heaven (I promised no puns, I do not deliver). The chicken is poached to tender perfection, the same which can be said of the enoki mushrooms – tender but still fibrously & chewy. Very texturally interesting already, and that’s before you get to the toasty, crunchy bread. The wasabi mayo isn’t as punchy in the wasabi department as I would have liked, but delivers on its crucial function of cohesively bringing all the filling together into one medium. Goodness, it’s just plain delicious.
I would say the bread is a bit too crunchy, making it tough to get through, especially if you have underbite or other chewing problems. That, and the wasabi component of the mayo lacking a bit of vigour, are the only nitpicks I have on an otherwise solid example of a good sandwich.
And it’s a damn big portion. You’re not going hungry after this.
While the chicken sandwich may be the crowd favourite, my personal preference is won by the master stock braised pork neck sambo. In the end, good old fashioned porcine goodness is what gets me to my happy place. That, and cheese – two ingredients this sandwich has in abundance. The pork is soft and tender, saucy but not so much that it makes for a messy eat. The cheese happens to hold it all together anyway, so it was never going to be a big deal.
As a final touch, the slightly-sour cabbage is a bit like a Chinese sauerkraut, but with more crunch and less mushiness. I think it could have been excluded from the sandwich and I’d have been indifferent. Crunch is already provided by the bread. That said, I didn’t mind its inclusion, and hey – vegetables!
A solid sarnie that’s already on the re-order list.
We’re not done yet.
See that plate on the right? That’s the salad form of the chicken & mushroom sandwich. The associated two pieces of bread are on the side. Note the portion size – that’s why salads are $13 even if the sandwich is $11-12. Once the Lady discovered this, she never went back to a sandwich.
I personally still prefer the crunch of filling between bread, but I can totally see why the salad is now her permanent order.
I hesitate to review scrambled eggs because of their simplicity, and the fact that everyone and their grandma’s cat can cook it. We can all agree that, because of this ubiquitous breakfast item, it’s quite difficult to stand out.
Yet, in a most surprising fashion, Cre Asion’s scrambled eggs, incredibly, do go above the fold. Alpha stuff, this is.
As expected, it’s all about the texture – soft, gooey and still creamy without being undercooked. That’s the sweet spot. Most scrambled eggs are really just underdone omelettes, which is why I seldom order them. Cre Asion’s texture is absolutely spot on, almost rivalling that of Cafe Morso – the king of scrambled eggs in Sydney as far as I’ve tried. Every bite maintains my attention, keeps me looking forward to the next bite, and the next.
Furthermore, with four slices of bread, each with a generous serving of eggs on top, you’ll have plenty of bites to come. I can confidently say that at least three eggs are used in the dish, if not possibly four. No skimping on portions is definitely the “I’m Still Hungry” remedy.
The only downside is that salt & pepper are almost certainly required. The default amount of seasoning leaves a flavour to be desired. This is not necessarily a negative, as those with far more sensitive palates may find the default to be acceptable. Just don’t forget to ask, as it is not automatically provided – the tables are small enough as it is.
One more item that we tried on our most recent visit was the cheesecake. I know – a something not matcha related? Cre Asion has several such items – including a carrot cake, a sponge cake, and caramel/walnut slices to name a few. Occasionally, they rotate in new items for a limited time.
As for the cheesecake, I’m not in a hurry to re-order. It’s undistinguished, lacking the density and cheesiness of a truly great cheesecake. Having recently tried the cheesecake from the king – Pasticceria Papa’s cheesecake, it’s hard not to compare. This is one area where Cre Asion is lacking, not that it’s a material issue – their matcha more than makes up for it.
Speaking of other sweets that aren’t matcha…
…Cre Asion does a selection of cookies as well. Pictured is the walnut caramel cookie. Crumbly and buttery, these work best when dipped into the matcha latte and letting the milk soften up the cookie a little. A guilty treat, something to snack on while your big dishes are being prepared.
You guessed it, the best cookie is a little bit green…
I’ve had more than ten matcha cookies by now and I just can’t get enough of them. These are redolent with the flavour of matcha, and paired with the crumbly nuttiness of the embedded macadamia nuts, make for a truly salubrious experience at the justified, massive dose of calories.
And they’re just cookies.
Have I made it clear that I’m obsessed with matcha?
I haven’t even talked about the matcha latte yet, despite its presence in every table photo. While I’ve heard anecdotal feedback that Cre Asion’s coffee aren’t all that flash, their matcha latte floors any I’ve ever had. Most other places fail to produce an exceptional matcha latte because they either oversweeten, drowning out the matcha, and/or don’t use authentic matcha powder (or not enough of it). Cre Asion’s matcha lattes have plenty of matcha in each cup, with only about 2/3 of a teaspoon’s worth of sugar. You can add more as you like it, the default is where it’s at for my palate.
This post has been a lot of “it’s better than any I’ve had”, but that’s exactly what it is – Cre Asion’s matcha game has the bar set pole-vaultingly high. They effectively have no competition. That they happen to do a mean series of sandwiches and a surprising sucker punch of scrambled eggs are bonuses.
Matcha lovers, look no further – Cre Asion’s the best you’ve got, but that’s not a problem – it delivers in spades. Here’s another picture of the fondant cake, just for fun. Remember, never share it.
This post is based on four independent visits to Cafe Cre Asion
Do you share my obsession of matcha? Let me know if you’ve got any matcha haunts of your own in the comments below – I’ll be sure to hit them up!
- Matcha matcha matcha matcha matcha – Sydney’s best matcha cafe right now
- Very small space – you’ll be fighting for leg room and seats
- The tables are small and low, with dishes struggling to find a place. You may also get back problems from bending over for extended periods
- Service can sometimes be slow as staff can be overwhelmed
- Matcha fondants sell out way too quickly
- Pray you never get a fondant cake that isn’t lava-like
I have a new scoring system! Read all about it here.
Most important takeaway – three separate scores for food, service and ambiance to give the final score. The new system is not compatible with any score given prior to 11/11/2014.
F8 | S4 | A1