“The best thing about this place is we’re not obliged to do anything.” Dessert chef Quang Nguyen is confident about opening his fourth business, Shibui Dessert Bar, knowing his customers are chomping at the bit. It follows Devour Cafe Patisserie (originally in Prospect before moving to Richmond) and Third Time Lucky in Lockleys.
“The last Devour Dessert Night was amazing,” says Quang’s life-and-business partner Thy Nguyen. “It was so humbling to see how many people wanted to come out and support us.” The 40-seater venue served 600 diners that night.
Drawing a crowd has never been much of a challenge for Devour, despite its suburban locations. But “we’re finally central,” says Quang, who hopes the new CBD site will grow his fan base even further.
Shibui will play the hits, with a menu offering eight (or so) of Quang’s signature dishes, plus a b-side – an unpredictable “mystery dish”, served sans-superlatives. “Everyone brings preconceptions about flavour,” Quang says, so for something to be surprising, you have to overcome this.
Delivering the unexpected has been a hallmark of his style since the first Devour opened in Prospect five years ago. His ability to present traditional flavours and nostalgic experiences as sophisticated, restaurant-quality desserts is captivating. Freak-shakes these ain’t. “Every element that’s on the plate, there’s a reason for it,” says Thy.
It’s an ethos reflected in the name – Shibui is Japanese for the aesthetic of subtlety and timelessness. “Simple yet thought out,” explains Quang. “Everything is a lot more refined [here].”
The cosy, clean fit-out has also been sharpened from previous locations – front and back of house. Where Devour marks I and II had kitchens split across several small rooms, this space is purpose-built to be visible, with house specialised equipment and streamlined service. The restaurant is chic and adaptable, with simple settings to steer attention to the beautifully presented plates in front of you.
About that: On the menu you’ll find “Nutella on Toast” – toast flavoured panna cotta with Nutella crunch, Nutella gelato and Nutella sponge; a vegan “Chocolate Forest” – chocolate mousse with matcha crumble, apple granita, chocolate twigs and stewed apples; and Golden Gaytime fried ice-cream – honeycomb parfait with malt sponge crumb, malt vanilla crumble and chocolate sauce. Pair them with a coffee from Canberra's best roaster Ona, a matcha latte or a selection of milkshakes.
Want a peek of the rest? Here’s are four more desserts Quang's dishing up.
LEMON MERINGUE PIE
Lemon-curd mousse, pistachio crumble, pistachio sponge, torched Swiss meringue, lemon sherbet, vanilla-bean ice-cream, balsamic
Vanilla-mandarin cheesecake, honeycomb, brown-butter crumble, mandarin gel, mandarin sorbet, fresh mandarin
BANANA POPCORN CARAMEL
Banana cake, vanilla-bean cream, dulce de leche, popcorn ice-cream, toffee popcorn, popcorn powder, caramelised fresh banana
WHITE CHOCOLATE REDSKIN CANDY
White chocolate mud cake, Redskins candy ice-cream, raspberry gel, fresh raspberries, freeze-dried raspberries, rice bubbles, white chocolate ganache
Shibui is open now.
This article was updated on August 11, 2018.
Shibui Dessert Bar
Shop 2/160 Grote Street, Adelaide
Wed & Thu 6pm–10.30pm
Fri & Sat 6pm–11.30pm