Recognisable by their jet-black pastry shells, these nomadic, South East Asian-inspired tarts have been floating around Melbourne like a dessert phantom. They’ve made cameos at the Flour Market, Seven Seeds, Twenty & Six Espresso and Eau de Vie, but haven’t had a home to call their own.

Now the Thai-Australian couple behind Nora has taken things to the next level, opening a bakery and cafe on Elgin Street.

The creation of self-taught baker Jean Thamthanakorn, the tarts have a signature black shell, which is tinted with charcoal from coconut husks, which are then filled with combinations such as lemongrass and ginger brûlée, coconut pandan, strawberries with tamarind cream cheese, and kaffir-lime custard with sour cherries. Bear in mind, she’s only making around 100 a day, “For quality control purposes.”

Thamthanakorn’s partner and co-owner, Sarin Rojanametin, who has had spells in the kitchen at Longrain and The Commoner, is responsible for the superb sourdough available to take home.

The depth of his experience is clear in the technique-driven menu. There’s sous vide egg, cooked for 30 minutes and served with a spiced doughnut and chilli paste, muesli made with durian and lotus root and salmon topped with coconut, nasturtium flowers and Asian greens. A mini breakfast-in-bed tray is undeniably cute, bearing house-made sourdough, butter, cheese and jam, plus chicken-liver parfait and cured pork belly.

“We were in New York recently, and we went to Pok Pok. It’s really famous at the moment,” Rojanametin says of their inspiration. “The chef there is American, but he lived in Thailand for 12 years. He’s got these super-punchy flavours, which he marries to Western technique and ingredients for that extra kick.”

A similar approach has been applied at Nora, where the pair plans to show there’s more to Thai flavours than pad Thai and tom yum. Yes, we’re convinced – just save us some of those tarts, will you?

156 Elgin Street, Carlton
(03) 9041 8644

Tue - Thu 7am - 3.30pm
Sat - Sun 8am - 4pm