There are plenty of places in Melbourne to find Italian gelato (and many debates in the Broadsheet office about which one has the best pistachio cone). But Kori Ice-Cream is part of a group of smaller shops, like Hareruya Pantry, Sundae School and Fluffy Torpedo, adding some much-needed variety to the city’s frozen-treats scene.

The Japanese-inspired scoop shop is the work of ex-Tonka pastry chef Joanne Yeoh and former Luxbite owner and pastry chef Bernard Chu – who has the great claim to fame of being the inventor of the lolly-bag cake, a sweet well-known from its 2013 appearance on Masterchef Australia.

Yeoh and Chu opened the first Kori location on Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, in mid-2022. Last December, less than a year on, they cut the ribbon on the brand’s second location – a compact, 28-square-metre spot next to a CBD car park on Bourke Street.

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Chu tells Broadsheet that with the new shop, which is inspired by Japanese convenience stores, the pair “aims to deliver an express ice-cream experience”. While the small size means fewer flavours here, on any given day there will be 10 signature scoops on offer, in addition to four bi-weekly specials.

For those new to Kori, Chu recommends the customer-favourite Hokkaido cheesecake ice-cream, and the crisp and sweet Fuji apple or yuzu vegan sorbets for warm summer days. Other highlights include the caramel purin (custard pudding) ice-cream, the strawberry and sudachi (Japanese citrus) vegan sorbet, the white-sesame ice-cream, and the plant-based tofu vanilla ice-cream.

Most flavours are inspired by the business partners’ travels to Japan, including the time Yeoh, who’s primarily responsible for developing the Kori offering, spent living there. Chu says we can also expect scoops inspired by the duo’s Southeast Asian upbringings (Chu is originally from Malaysia, Yeoh from Singapore) in future.

Kori’s Hawthorn store is almost as well-known for its striking coral-coloured fit-out as its refreshing scoops. Here, the designers Chu and Yeoh worked with at Architects Eat and Principle Design wholeheartedly embraced the location. “The entire aesthetic nods to car-park elements” says Chu. There’s LED signage made to resemble car-park entry signs, concrete-grey finishes, mesh-metal shelving covers and exposed piping.

A Kori-branded vending machine at the back of the store nods to the shop’s Japanese convenience-store influence. Those looking to take home a pint or two can choose from the machine’s 12 tubs. In the near future, it will also dispense Korinettos (the store’s take on a Cornetto), ice-cream sandwiches and icy poles.

Kori CBD
392 Bourke Street, Melbourne
(03) 7012 7487

Sun to Thurs 12pm–10.30pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–11pm