They’ve got cafes in Surry Hills, North Sydney, Barangaroo, Brisbane’s Garden City and even one in Jakarta. Now the team behind Devon – which when it opened in 2013 eschewed the standard model of scrambled eggs, muesli and toast breakfasts for fancier and culturally unaligned food – has opened another, and this time with a secret weapon: pastry chef-extraordinaire Marcus Andrew.
Dopa Donburi and Milkbar is on a large corner spot on Little Hay Street, the neon-lit strip dubbed “electric treat street” in Sydney’s new multi-million-dollar Darling Square development, in Haymarket.
The menu is split 50/50 between sweet and savoury, with owner and executive chef Zacharay Tan (Bistro Guillaume Melbourne, and all the other Devon’s) handling the non-dessert things, while Andrew is in charge of everything else. Andrew used to work with macaron-master Adrian Zumbo, known for elaborate creations, and teaches pastry classes at the prestigious Le Cordon Blue cooking school.
(Sydney got a little taste test of what they can do at Vivid this year, when Dopa collaborated with Gelato Messina, which is now next door, to create glow-in-the-dark desserts at the Blacklight Dessert Lab.)
In preparation for Dopa, the two chefs took a trip to Tokyo to eat popular late-night street eats so they could create a menu of Japanese comfort food. In the open-kitchen, chefs ready timber trays for a range of don (rice bowls) topped with sides such as teriyaki eggplant, Wagyu beef tongue and cheeseburger (a Waygu patty with cheeseburger condiments). “Coming from a fine-dining background, you always want to play with the different components and textures, but with a lot of Japanese cooking they’re just happy for it to be simple and soft,” says Tan.
Shelves float overhead, neatly lined with Japanese ingredients that Tan has spent considerable time selecting. Apart from the gold coolroom door, the space has a very Japanese aesthetic, with clean lines and a muted colour palette.
What sets the Dopa Donburi and Milkbar venue apart from the other Devons, says Tan, is “There is definitely a lot more of a focus on the produce. We’re doing fast-casual but we’re doing it with [good ingredients].” He adds that there’s a page on the menu dedicated to mapping out where each ingredient is from.
Decadently presented desserts such as the tiramisu parfait, strawberry profiterole, kakigori (shaved ice) and the black-sesame pudding are restrained and balanced in their flavours. “The Dopa shakes are what we’re all about,” says Tan.
They come in matcha, mocha, strawberry and truffle boba, but consider yourself warned: the name is short for “dopamine” because, according to Tan, once you try them you’ll be hooked.
The whole menu is designed to be easy to take away, but at 10pm the place is still buzzing with people catching up over sundaes and shakes.
Dopa Donburi and Milkbar
Little Hay Street, Haymarket
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on August 8, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.