ince opening in South Yarra two years ago today, LuxBite founders Bernard Chu and Yen Yee have established a successful gourmet macaron and cake shop, developing a loyal following of sweet-tooths and forged a glowing reputation as one of the most exquisite patisseries in Melbourne.
With their two-year anniversary approaching, Chu and Yee decided it was the perfect time to enliven the store via a triple transformation: new menu, new retail section and new, renovated interior. The result is a new, confident LuxBite that is more certain of its identity than ever.
Since arriving in Australia from Malaysia to pursue their passion for pastry, Chu and Yee have been searching out ways to marry the Southeast Asian flavours of their homeland with the unmatchable techniques of French baking.
As you scan the rainbow-like display of macarons, there are the usual suspects: salted caramel, café latte, strawberry. But then you notice some new friends: bamboo oolong tea, kaya toast, green tea pistachio and pandan.
“Here we do a western dessert, like French macarons, and then we always add Asian flavours into it. This is our brand, this is why we’re unique here,” Chu says.
Although their desserts have always drawn on such experimentation, Chu and Yen decided to follow their instincts towards Asian flavours and apply them to a brand new brunch menu that entices you to forget about smashed avocado and try something completely different.
From the pandan chicken burger with sambal mayo, apple and kiwi relish and Asian slaw, to the pan seared taro cake, and bamboo charcoal brioche bun with housemade pork jerky and kewpie, it’s a bold statement of identity in the form of a friendly brunch menu.
“Before the renovation, breakfast did get a bit boring – Melbourne-style breakfast, from bacon to toasties. And then we found it doesn’t suit our brand. It becomes just another breakfast joint. So during the renovation we thought about it, so we wanted to change the whole game, which is a big risk for us,” Chu says. “Not many people do this kind of breakfast in Melbourne.”
The menu may be completely revitalised, but it’s hardly the first thing you notice when you walk into the store. The new, renovated LuxBite space is like stepping into a giant candy box. The original cream and brown colour scheme has been overhauled for rainbow-striped feature walls, mirroring the patterns of the multi-coloured macarons displayed beneath it. Gone as well are the tables for two, replaced with one big marble communal table which Chu says makes it “a bit more Melbourne”.
In addition to the new menu and fit-out, they have also introduced a new retail section that follows in the LuxBite tradition of inducing a pleasant double take. With dehydrated rocky road chocolate mousse and a range of sherbet making their debut next year, little jars of vanilla and salted caramel spreads are already stocking the shelves. Chu and Yee are particularly excited about their house-made kaya, a sweet coconut jam from Southeast Asia.
“When you hit Southeast Asia , first thing you should try is kaya toast,” Chu enthuses about the popular Asian snack. “We make it into a macaron with my grandpa’s recipe.
“But people ask us too many times, why don’t you guys just sell it in a jar? So we do it.”
One thing that hasn’t changed is the gold lettering printed on the shop’s front window. “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first,” it reads.
Some things you just get right the first time.