Dulcet’s second dessert shop is charming – and a real contrast to its neighbours. Noodle shops are the predominant occupiers of this Haymarket arcade – notably the “grapes on the roof” Chinese Noodle Restaurant – and most have established their reputations on the quality of their food rather than their fit-out.
Dulcet is all about the pretty pastels. The stools are musk-stick pink with gold, the double fridge and walls are turquoise, and there’s a pastel-coloured balloon arc decorating the floor-to-ceiling window. But the shop isn’t just notable because it’s pretty. The marble and glass display case is filled with neat rows of delicate, intricate and – most importantly – delicious confections, all made in the shop’s original Burwood location.
“We’re a very Japanese-oriented French patisserie,” says co-owner Vivienne Li. Li opened Dulcet in 2017 with ex-Quay head pastry chef Juno Zhu. Their approach is applying French pastry techniques to desserts with typically Asian flavour profiles – which means nothing too sweet.
“Our cakes have very light, fluffy textures and they’re lower in sugar,” Li says. “I’m not really a sweet tooth, and I find most things on the Australian market have very strong, sweet flavours, like passionfruit or caramel. Our customers are mostly Asian, and fluffy, light cakes with just a hint of sweetness suit their taste better.”
Li rapidly runs Broadsheet through the desserts in the display case with the ease of someone who intimately knows their (Earl Grey and peach) mousse cake from their chiffon. Originally a marketing executive, she switched careers when she moved from China to Australia, learning the pastry trade at renowned French cooking school Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney.
“We like to combine very traditional Western ingredients with Asian ingredients,” she says, gesturing to a row of perfectly identical cakes covered in a glossy midnight-blue fondant decorated with gold leaf. “This one is 70 per cent dark chocolate mousse, and inside we fill it with jasmine tea and raspberry jelly.”
There’s also a black sticky-rice mousse cake filled with strawberry jelly, a mango and coconut sago mousse cake, matcha soft serve, and a vibrant green matcha double-cheesecake made with high-grade Marukyu-Koyamaen green-tea powder imported from Japan.
Dulcet’s famous layered durian crepe cake is also on display for anyone with an appreciation of the pungent, milky fruit.
“The cake has 21 layers of crepes and we use only the Musang King durian from Malaysia, which is the most expensive kind of durian. We do a crème patissiere with the durian where we whip the cream inside.”
Li describes Dulcet’s Haymarket location as an “express shop” – where customers can pop in for a takeaway special-occasion cake or have a quick post-dinner dessert. Although it’s tucked away from Haymarket’s bustling main streets, the store’s reputation means fans from Burwood are already visiting.
Mon to Sun 11am–10pm
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on July 2, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.