In Short: Café Cre Asion delivers a divinely refined experience that blends French and Japanese influences that surpasses all expectations from a modest, yet eclectically cosy, space. It’s not a question of if you should go, but when.
Owner and Chef Yu Sasaki has every right to be proud of his creation that is Café Cre Asion. Every morsel and drop that emanates from the kitchen of this tiny, yet titanically talented, café is impossible to fault. I know it’s risking hyperbole with praise so high, but in this case, every word is justified. Nestled quietly in a very Tokyo-esque, urban canyon of Alberta St, Café Cre Asion has us immediately transported back to the Japanese café culture hubs of Harajuku and the like. And if it’s not apparent from this first paragraph the direction this review is heading, I’ll spare you the suspense right now and just say go…go now, before the fondant and tarts are sold out!
Arriving only minutes after it’s Saturday morning opening time of 9am, we’re in luck and score a table right out front. The warm glow from the wood and glass interior spills into the alleyway and draws in passers-by with scents of matcha, chiffon, caramel, and espresso. With a table secured outside, it’s mere steps to the jewellery case of delicate and sophisticated creations that has a line of admirers mesmerised. With necks craning over our shoulders from those next in line trying to make a very difficult decision this early on a weekend morning, our order is placed with a delightfully unsurpassed Japanese standard of politeness, and we head back to our front porch possie to await the heavenly arrivals.
A cup of Single Origin Roasters’ gold is first to land and it’s a super smooth, light, and dark chocolatey roast that’s topped with a creamy froth and finishes very clean in the mouth. It’s a perfect match for the refined Japanese flavours to come.
Now here’s where Sasaki’s brilliance is distilled into a deceptively simple and elegant form. The caramel and matcha tarts are sublime examples of how mastery, over flavour and texture, are best illustrated through balance and restraint. As the surreal smoothness of the tart almost lathers the tongue, you can just imagine the relentless pursuit its maker undertook to hit that perfect note of each of the flavours. The caramel approaches sweetness, and then stops short of making that amateur step into sickly sweet treacle. Unlike almost all the matcha wannabes that ply their “flavour of the moment” wares throughout Sydney CBD, this matcha tart is a model of balance that brings the matcha, but leaves behind the bitterness.
Can you have too much matcha in one sitting? My tummy says no, but from previous experience, this caffeine sensitive brain of mine says, perhaps! Sure, the caffeine content in matcha is generally less than coffee, but many say that matcha’s “caffeine high” is very different to a good old cup a joe. Having endured some head spins and sleepless nights from potent matcha brews in the past, I brave a late night ahead and take my first sip of the Matcha Genmai Tea Latte. OK, so this is the real deal. Real, as in, I’m sitting back in that Harajuku café with trendy Tokyo types trying hard to look cool, and doing a very good job at it too. This is what matcha should taste like. There’s a silky lead up to a subtle bite that finishes sweet across the roof of the mouth. It’s never acrid or bitter, and you can feel it’s magic picking you up and calming you down at the same moment. Perfect.
Anyone who knows anything about Café Cre Asion, will certainly know that the fondant is one of the stars in the line-up. So much so, that simply getting your hands on one can be tricky as the day moves on. There’s a reason why they’re a hot commodity, they’re a little work of art. I don’t mean like all these desserts that look like jewellery but taste like plastic, I mean, this little marvel is a little bit magic and a little bit science all rolled into one. Getting its cake exterior to be light and slightly crusty while its molten interior flows like lava, has to be a skill the baker will take to the grave. Whatever the secret, Café Cre Asion has it well and truly mastered. The outer crust possesses an almost dark chocolate-like acidity that gives way to a much sweeter core of molten matcha magic. The two contrast and complement each other as the palate dances to define each experience.
Café Cre Asion restores the moniker of artisan and master in the Sydney café landscape. From a simple and modest space come creations that show what true culinary craft can achieve. We have just one thing to say… gochisōsama deshita!