It is still early in the evening after dinner at Mumu Grill when a friend in our dining party suggests somewhere a little different for dessert. She tells us there’s a dessert place in Epping that does Asian-flavoured desserts with modern twists which are often made fresh to order. We all hop in our respective cars, it starts raining on the way and there is miscommunication about its exact location, but we find Sam’s Café eventually which is hidden in an alcove under a couple of blocks of high-rise apartments.
The place is a Hong Kong-style (fusion) café or “cha chaan teng” (茶餐廳). It’s not terribly large, the interiors are garish, the menu is full of Chinglish and not very descriptive, but thankfully there is a wall full of photo examples of most dishes. Presumably it’s run by a fellow by the name of Sam whom we think is in the kitchen along with his wife who is in charge of desserts.
I order an ice-cream and red (azuki) bean shaved ice drink (雪糕紅豆冰) which strangely lacks the usual inclusion of evaporated milk. As a result the drink is sweet but watery, although the ice-cream does provide a little needed creaminess. A friend has ordered the deep-fried taro sticks (炸芋條) which appear to come coated in a light cornstarch-type batter and sprinkled with icing sugar. The batons of taro are surprisingly crisp and flaky without the starchy stodginess of when they are stewed.
There is a 20 minute wait on soufflés so, as Monsieur Poisson and I are the last ones to be seated, a couple have been ordered prior to our arrival. But these are not your usual soufflé flavours – the one in the pink ramekin below is mango, while the one in the yellow is durian. Neither are the traditional flat-topped soufflés but both are nicely risen and thankfully the durian variety is not too pungent as I am not a big fan of its flavour (as opposed to Monsieur Poisson).
Someone has also ordered the puff pastry-topped sweet tofu soup (蘇皮豆腐花), often also called “tofu flower”. The hot sugar syrup with layers of lightly-flavoured silken tofu is served in a mug topped with a layer of puff pastry that has been decorated with heart-shaped cutouts.
Monsieur Poisson has chosen the apple pie which is not so much a pie as turnovers. They are served with a generous amount of cold ice-cream which I love when contrasted with the hot filling of the apple parcels.
My dessert of choice is the mango filo fingers (芒果卷) which are nice and crisp on the outside but unfortunately the mango has some icy bits still in the centre. The desserts are cheap though, all coming in at under $10 per serve, so we have no complaints but it must be noted that there is a minimum spend of $10 per person here. Whether this is an all day thing or just a rule for later at night I didn’t take note, but nonetheless I wouldn’t mind going back and trying their other meals sometime in the future.
Shop 32, 74-76 Rawson St (near cnr Carlingford Rd & Beecroft Rd), Epping NSW
Tel: (04) 24 046 377
Opening Hours: Mon-Wed 6pm-10pm (dinner only)
Thurs-Sun 12:30pm-3pm (lunch)