Popular Malaysian dessert chains Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tarts (HBCT) and PAFU have joined forces to open a PAFU X Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tarts shop in Sydney’s World Square.

HBCT is a veteran dessert chain in Australia; it has 15 shops across the country. PAFU is relatively new, and its shtick is Japanese sweets. (PAFU and Hokkaido are owned by the same parent company, the ST Group, which also owns Malaysian hawker-food favourite Pappa Rich.)

HBCT’s signature dessert is made using a traditional Japanese recipe. But at PAFU it’s all about a cross between a French apple turnover and a Japanese-style cream puff. PAFU’s puff pastry is filled with custard and tart slices of apple.

The cheese tarts come in three flavours: plain, strawberry and blueberry, and at World Square there are specials such as salted egg yolk tarts. At first glance, the wobbly, pale yellow custard in a buttery shortcrust shell could be a Portuguese tart, but the flavour is totally different. Made from custard and three types of Australian cheese (a secret recipe that convincingly approximates the original Hokkaido-style tarts) the texture is creamy and soft, and the flavour is a balance of sweet and tangy.

All the pastries are assembled and baked at the small kiosk. Between serving customers, staff can be seen carefully brushing egg wash across rows of tarts before putting them into the oven. Cheese tarts have been sold in World Square since 2016, but now the space has a gradient colour wrap around the counter that transitions from PAFU’s rosy pink to Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tarts’ black.

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Updated: April 26th, 2024

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