The first thing you might notice at Sea Sweet is the colour of the beklawa (or “baklava”; beklawa is the Lebanese spelling). This isn’t usually what beklava looks like. It’s lighter, like the inside of an almond, and when you slice it, it doesn’t ooze syrup or fold inwards but snaps in layers. Other beklawas are denser; these feel like puff pastries breaking into sticky shards after each bite.

The difference is the filo pastry. Almost all Sydney Levantine (the region around modern Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian territories) patisseries import theirs because it’s too difficult to make, but Sea Sweet makes its own

Founded in Lebanon in 1973, Sea Sweet now has more than 10 stores in Lebanon, and is still widely respected because of its commitment to craftsmanship and quality ingredients. When it was set up in Australia in 2008, the owners wanted it to be an exact copy of the Lebanese original. Now it has five stores in Sydney.

The most important of all the sweets was, and still is, knafeh, the famous syrup-soaked cheesecake. In Lebanon it’s a breakfast snack sold on the street. If the stall has no seats or plates, it might sell it stuffed into a sesame bun. You’ll see the same thing at Sea Sweet: workers coming through the door for their first meal of the day and walking out with either a coffee and a hot-cheesecake sandwich.

More than anything this is a takeaway sweet shop. Along with the knafeh, the Lebanese “fruit cocktail” (a mix of avocado, fruit and cream) is all that’s available for eating in. You might also find beklawa with pine nuts, pistachio or cashew, crepes jammed with clotted cream, spongy semolina cakes, chewy mochi-like rice cakes with cream, and shortbread-style biscuits with dates or nuts.

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Updated: May 15th, 2023

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