Friday, March 13, 2020

Spice I Am, Surry Hills, Sydney

Sydney has no shortage of excellent Thai restaurants.  It was after my time living there that I realized just how poor the Thai food is in the US (at least, where I've lived).  I've visited all the Sydney institutions by now, including those that have since closed (tears, I miss you Sailor's Thai (particularly the Canteen!!)

This visit to Sydney however, I didn't really have time to go out and dine, and worse, it was raining nearly the entire time, so venturing out to get food one particularly wet evening, after having just gotten back to the hotel from the office, soaking wet, just wasn't appealing.  Thus, delivery it was.  And I knew Thai food would be a solid delivery option - curries hold heat well, there are plenty of interesting chilled dishes, and, well, Sydney has good Thai food.

I took the opportunity to order from Spice I Am, which has been on my list for quite a while, but is known for having long waits.  Definitely known for having seriously authentic Thai food, and the chef has won many awards.  While I did have a wait a while for my order, at least I did it from the comfort of my hotel room!  Delivery was via Deliveroo, as with most places in Sydney.
Thai Feast for One.
I ordered one starter, one salad, and one curry.  Yes, I ordered way too much food for one person in a single sitting.  But since I was getting delivery getting just one dish didn't make sense, and I wanted to have at least two items in case I didn't like one.  Hedge my bets. And I knew it would all keep fine for a few days in my fridge, which, of course I had in my hotel room (along with a microwave of course).

The menu at Spice I Am is quite extensive, and narrowing down on just a few dishes was hard enough.  I was able to easily look past the soups and "Light Meals" - which really seemed like appetizers - but with 9 different salads, 21 "Specials of the Day", 18 stir fries, 8 curries, noodle dishes, rice dishes, and more "Specialties" ... making decisions was hard.

I settled on one "Special of the Day", a dish I knew was a cold dish so would travel well, one salad (which I thought was cold but wasn't!), and one hot main dish.  It was hard to pick just one main hot item, but since I was getting delivery I decided a curry would be better than a stir fry or noodle dish, or any of the specials, as it would hold heat, and not get soggy.

The food was all decent, arrived nicely packaged, and delivered in the spice department as expected.  I wasn't really blown away by anything though, but I have no real complaints.
Mieng Ka Na (With Finger Lime). $19.
"Sweet and sour spicy flossy pork, finger lime, ginger, shallot, and fresh chili. Served with green Chinese broccoli leaf."

First up, my starter: mieng ka na.

This came from the "Specials of the Day" section of the menu, which, as far as I can tell, doesn't actually change with the day.  Of all the dishes I ordered, it was the one I was most eager to try.  It sounded fascinating.

Unfortunately, it wasn't a winner for me.

The idea is you make little wraps with the broccoli leaf.  The leaf part was a success, not a leaf I normally eat raw, and I liked how crisp it was.  I'd love to fill it with other things.

But this filling ... well, it seemed to be 85% coconut?  Coconut wasn't even listed in the ingredients.  I don't mind coconut, but, I wasn't looking for coconut filling.  I wanted flossy pork!  And there was a little bit of flossy pork in there, stringy, savory, and I think good, but, alas, all I could taste was coconut.  There were also chunks of cashew (yay crunch) and good herbs, but I certainly didn't find any of the promised finger lime either.

So ... no finger lime, not much flossy pork, and mostly coconut?  Yeah, meh.  By the forkful it certainly wasn't good, made into wraps it was a little better, and mixed into salad later as leftovers it was best, but I ended up throwing out much of it.  I just didn't enjoyed it.

This is a cold dish, in case you were wondering.
Yum Pla Krob Salad. $23.
"Salad of Thai herbs with crispy seasoning whitebait, cashew nut, chilli, eschallot, coriander, and mint leaves."

This was a bit of a random order on my part, but I wanted dishes that would hold up well for delivery (so, cold was ideal), and I wanted lighter dishes (given all the decadent consumption I was doing), and, well, I wanted something fresh (so much fried food, way too many ridiculous desserts, and really no fresh veggies or fruits in days!).   So a salad met those requirements.

The salad line up had all sorts of interesting sounding options, and I really was curious about the Nam Khao Tod Salad (crispy rice salad?!), but I decided getting a rice salad wasn't exactly what I was aiming for.  The yum pla krob kept jumping out instead.

I had no idea what this salad would be like however, but, I knew there would be herbs (which I thought would be the dominant ingredient ...), and some fried little fishes?  I couldn't picture it, and I think that made me even more interested.

What I really wasn't expecting was a hot dish though.  I guess it makes sense that it was hot, cold fried little fishes doesn't really sound that appealing now that I think about it, but I was surprised to open my order and find a hot salad.

A tasty hot salad.  Definitely my surprise favorite dish.  But not exactly the lightness nor vegetables I was looking for.

The whitebait were the star attraction, battered in really well seasoned coating, and super crispy.  They were intensely fishy, in a good way.  Crispy fried flavorful little fishes.  Definitely not for everyone but I happen to adore anchovies and sardines, so these were right up my alley.

The "salad" mix did have plenty of herbs, lots of eshallot, mint, and coriander, plus of course chilis.  Oh, and cashews for more crunch, although they weren't needed really at all given the crispy fish.

It all was soaked in some kind of dressing, a bit sweet, a bit sour, and I think fish sauce based.  Extra fishiness.  Very, well, thai, in that there were lots of flavors that were playing together in fascinating and actually balanced ways.

Overall, I enjoyed this, found it totally fascinating, and did really like the crispy fish.  I *did* want some fresh salad though, and ended up pulling baby kale out of my fridge and tossing this with it, and liked it considerably more that way.  I also kinda wanted a mayo or aioli drizzle ... but that is just me really liking fried food and mayo based dipping sauces these days.

My favorite dish, although I preferred my modified salad version.

I saved the leftovers, and enjoyed all the non-fish bits cold the next day, they really soaked up the flavorful spices, and the batter on the fish was actually *very* tasty at that point, although soft and soggy.  As I suspected, the cold fried leftover little fishes weren't good, but I may have sucked off a bunch of the batter, and really enjoyed it ...
Green Curry, Vegetable. $18.
"Traditional green chili curry with Thai eggplant and pork blood jelly."

For my curry, I kinda wanted the red curry.  I kinda wanted the yellow curry (I had a fantastic yellow curry a few days prior that I couldn't get out of my head).  I was tempted by the special duck curry.  But I went for green curry, fascinated by the addition of "pork blood jelly".  Is that ... traditional?  I had no idea.

I knew I didn't want chicken or pork, and although I like beef it isn't my top choice for green curry.  I almost splurged (+$7) for the seafood, but I actually often dislike calamari in Sydney, and wasn't really sure what was included in the seafood mix.  The prawn option was also $7 and I wasn't excited by it, so, veggie I went.   I often find that I somehow eat very few vegetables when I'm in Sydney, so this also seemed like a good thing.  Plus, veggie soak up curry well!

I didn't realize that veggie mean tofu, so I was sad when I saw the big triangles of tofu (I don't like it), but, I hope it also had more interesting vegetables in it than the others?  It did have a decent assortment:green beans, carrots, button mushrooms, and other mushrooms, in addition to the thai eggplant.  The veggies were all cooked fine, nothing mushy, nothing too crisp.  I can't say the veggies were remarkable or interesting, but nothing wrong with them.

The curry was ... spicy.  As I expected.  I knew Spice I Am is known for being authentic, and they don't have spice levels, so, spicy I expected.  The visible red chilis were only part of the heat.  The coconut milk and strong aromatics in the curry helped balance the heat though, and I didn't find it overwhelming. There was plenty of lemongrass I believe?

As you can see, it was fairly oily, which wasn't pleasant to see, but it didn't actually taste oily.

Overall, it was fine.  Spicy, well prepared, and I really did like all the herbs and fragrance to it. It didn't strike me as remarkable though, and to be honest, I liked the green curry I had a few days prior elsewhere more.  My least favorite dish.  I appreciated that this was packaged with additional plastic wrap around it to not make a mess.
Spice I Am Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Auvers Cafe, Square Harbour, Sydney

Auvers is a French village.  It is also the name of a popular cafe in Rhodes.  And now in Darling Square.  In Sydney, one of my favorite cities on earth.

It is also the home of one of the most delicious things I've ever consumed.

Oh yes.

But let's back up.  The philosophy at Auvers is simple, the 3 pronged focus is on coffee (to have the best), food (quality ingredients, farmer sourced), and atmosphere (what's good food if the place isn't nice?)  They are open daily, serving brunch until late afternoon (yes!  daily!), dinner, and also quick grab cafe offerings like pastries and coffee.
Darling Square Location.
I can't comment much on the atmosphere as I didn't dine in, but they have both indoor and outdoor seating and it looked quite inviting.

I've been eyeing all areas of the menu, from the beautiful taro coconut sago brunch dish, to the taro lattes, to the flaky beef rendang pithivier, to even the side of cassava fries.  The menu is unique, seems loaded with flavors and interesting twists, and, well, I've wanted to visit forever.

But I never had a chance.  And then one evening, after dinner, after a very big dinner, full of fried fish and many other things, I set out to take a walk in the area, to find something light for dessert.  Light.  Just a little something to finish my night, as it had been full of decadence.  I was not hungry, but I just wanted one more last thing.

And then I remembered it was Wednesday.  And when I had stopped by at Auvers earlier in the week to browse the pastry case, and almost even purchased a ridiculous looking black sesame cream filled massive croissant, the staff mentioned that on Wednesdays, they usually had a taro version too.  I figured I could just walk by and at least see it ...
Pastry Case.
Um, yeah.  The pasty case was filled with housemade goodies, including the epic croissants.  Including the taro one.  Given my love of baked goods, and of taro in particular, it seems pretty likely that you can guess where this story is going.

Side note: the staff here are amazing.  Really, really amazing.  Both times I stopped by they were extremely friendly, personable, and actually seemed interesting in chatting.  I loved the place just because of them!
Massive Croissant.
Now, I said these were massive croissants.  They looked insane in the display case.  But it was even more dramatic when the barista attempted to box it up to go for me.  This box was not a tiny pastry box. This is a full size entree box.  She knew there was no way it would close, so so added a little tape to it so it would at least stay together somewhat.  

Uh, yeah.  Proceed with caution.

I did mention that I was looking for just a little treat, had a huge dinner, and was alone right?  Yes.  Danger, danger.
Taro Croissant.
Ok, so, yeah.  This croissant.

A massive croissant, stuffed with taro cream (more on this soon), and topped with hard taro white chocolate.

I'll be honest, I was excited for the taro, but kinda expected it to just have a little taro cream inside, expected the purple topping to just be kinda sweet white chocolate with barely any taro flavor, just really about looks, and, since they aren't actually a bakery primarily (but do make these in house daily) I had no hopes for the croissant itself, particularly given that it was late in the day.  I thought I'd likely try a few bites, scrape out the cream if it was tasty, and move on.  Light bite acquired.

But .... my expectations were all wrong.  This thing was good.  Very, very, very good.  Every element to it.

The croissant itself was well made, nicely laminated.  Not the flakiest I've ever had, but honestly that was nice, as it didn't make a mess in that way.  The ends were pleasantly crispy, the inside moist.  It was not dried out nor stale, even with the late hour.  It was a very rich croissant, clearly made with plenty of quality butter.  A very good croissant, actually.

Then, the topping.  This was an extremely generous topper of taro white chocolate.  It tasted strongly of taro, although yes, it was sweet.  It was solid, so a bit odd on top of the croissant in such quantity, I couldn't cut through it, but I could break it off, and then eat it later (which I did with glee).  A very tasty element, but, a bit hard to navigate on the croissant.
And then, um, the filling.  Somehow, it wasn't obvious quite what lay within, until I cut into it.
Taro Cream Filling.
Um, zomg.

I've already told you how ridiculously large the croissant itself is, and I know the barista told me it was "stuffed with tons of cream", but nothing prepared me for the quantity that was inside.  Seriously.  Several cups of taro cream. 

The taro flavor was so ridiculously strong.  I couldn't get over how intensely taro flavored it was.  And also quite sweet.  And fluffy.  And rich.  So. Much. Cream.

The cream was fantastic.  Honestly, you could, and I did, eat it just by the spoonful, like a very sweet, very rich, taro pudding.  You could also dunk pieces of the croissant into it.  You could alternate bites with plain croissant to tamper the sweetness overload.  I did all of these things.  I enjoyed them all.

In my initial sitting, I devoured about 75% of this thing.  I kinda couldn't believe it.  How had I, full, just wanting a light treat, just done that?  I had no idea.  I walked back to my hotel fairly weighed down and feeling a bit worse for the wear.

And then I walked into my hotel room, and polished the rest off.  I wanted "just one more bite", after all.  I can't explain it.  Besides that it was just way, way too good not to finish on the spot.  Sure, I had visions of waking up to a small chunk of croissant, or maybe using the rest of the cream on some kind of creation, but alas, there was nothing left.  Nothing.  Every. Last. Bite.

Now, I don't actually recommend devouring one of these alone after a huge meal.  But I do recommend going to get one.  And if taro isn't your thing, they make matcha, black sesame, and chocolate versions too ... or you can get them as part of a brunch desk, the Eggs Benedict comes inside a toasted croissant rather than English Muffin (and, um, has ponzu hollandaise, pulled pork, and pork floss ...), and the crab omelette comes with one too ...
Auvers Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Ippudo, Sydney

#underwhelming

That could be my entire review of my Ippudo experience.  

I don't think I need to give much preamble to Ippudo, right?  Chain, famous for ramen, yadda yadda.  

I didn't go for ramen, and I didn't go to dine-in however.  I visited the Westfield Mall location in Sydney, for takeout, at lunchtime.
Small Takeout Meal.
I got my food for takeout, since I didn't feel like dealing with table service.  The location was right next to my hotel AND in a food court, so it was easy to just walk 3 feet away and sit at a table and be left alone, or I could have crossed the street back to my hotel.

I really wanted to try the "Japanesian Coleslaw", with hakusai cabbage, native herbs, and yuzukosho dressing, but alas, not on the limited takeout menu, and, no exceptions.

My items took about 15 minutes, which seemed a bit long, but I think they were prepared fresh.
Yamaimo Fries. $8.
"Japanese yam fries, soy mayonnaise."

Well, sadly, these were not good.  And I was so excited for them!

On the plus side, they were clearly freshly made to order, piping hot.  But they were greasy, crisp but not crispy if that makes sense, and didn't really taste like much.  The batter really looked like it should be great, but alas, they weren't.

The soy mayo at least would be great right?  Nope.  Not sure what it was about it, but I actually really, really disliked the flavor.  It was honestly repulsive to me.

I kept trying the fries, thinking as they cooled maybe I'd like more, but they got worse, spongy as the oil all absorbed in.  I tried dunking in other dips, but alas, just nothing worked.

At least the portion was meager.  Clearly would not get again.
Prawn Katsu Bun. $6.
"Fried prawn cutlet, sweet chilli sauce."

I can't say I was impressed by the looks of my bun.  It was pretty much falling apart.  It had very little cabbage, and very little sauce.  It looked like a fast food item.
able
But it was decent.  The bun was soft, slightly sweet, fluffy.  Nicely steamed.  Clearly, they do a nice job with the buns.

The prawn cutlet was ... ok.  It was juicy, it had plenty of prawn, it was nicely coated and fried.  Not particularly exciting, but fine.

Really, what made this kinda sad was the garnish.  The sprinkle of cabbage really was laughable.  The tiny smear of sweet chili sauce wasn't nearly enough.  I had other sauces with me that I used, but otherwise I would have been pretty grumpy.

So overall, I saw promise, but it wasn't amazing.
Ippudo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Mango Coco, Sydney

OMG.

Yup, that is all I have to say about Mango Coco.  A new Thai dessert cafe opened in Sydney.  OMG.

Yes, it has all the makings of something I'd love: desserts galore.  Ingredients like taro and pandan abound.  Very trendy smoothie drinks.  Asian baked goods. Ridiculous plated desserts.  Seriously, looking through the (many page) menu was like a dream come true.

But ... but how often do these sort of places live up?  Particularly brand new ones.  Why would I expect this place with virtually no reviews to be good?

I took a gamble.  It paid off.
My last two days in Sydney: as much Mango Coco as I could consume!
I wish I stopped in sooner.  I had only one night and one day left in Sydney, but I pulled off two quick visits.  I will be back, and in particular, I will make it to the full sit down restaurant.  Please, please, don't close on me before I return Mango Coco!

Setting

Mango Coco is located in Thai town, right next to my familiar haunts (my Thai hawker dessert cart is literally 2 doors down, Chat Thai where I often grab desserts has a location around the corner, Boon Cafe is next door ...), on Pitt St.  I discovered it by accident, while en route to my Thai hawker.

Note: I'm unlikely to venture *anywhere* else in Sydney for a Thai dessert in the future. I want more Mango Coco, and I want it now!
Thai Desserts.
At first glance, Mango Coco doesn't look much different than any of the other establishments in the area.  After all, Thai dessert carts line the streets, really.  And all seem to feature the same types of packaged desserts, likely even sourced from the same place.

Sure, the storefront is more appealing than most, but these goods don't look particularly unique.

And then ... and then you realize the epic creations that wait inside.  Mango Coco is like no other on the street (or in Sydney), or anywhere I've been ...
Cakes.
Want to get drawn in further?  Display cases full of bright colors of assorted cakes, easily available togo.

The cake lineup has all sorts of ... "monsters". Like the Foithong Monster (available in two sizes, the larger one is called the "mommy"). Pandan and durian make appearances too.

I think the most famous one of the moment is the Miss Durian, which, is supposed to look like a durian, thorns and all, and yes it has plenty of durian mousse inside.
Takeaway Ordering Area.
Ordering just drinks to take away, or picking up packaged items is easy, and, unlike many shops, there is no question where you are supposed to order.  Right here!
Seating Area.
For the main attractions, full on dessert cafe mode, there is a beautiful seating area.  Well lit, nicely decorated, and the yellow theme dominates.  Consistent look and feel to the entire place.  They even make exposed light bulbs look good!

Drinks

The drink lineup at Mango Coco is actually only a fraction of the menu, but it is where I started.  You can get drinks to dine-in, or to go, and the setup is actually designed for them to be primarily takeaway.

The drink menu is broken into 6 categories: mango smoothies, coconut smoothies, yogurt smoothies, and Sparkling Drinks, teas, and "Thai Drinks" (you know, lychee butterfly pea smoothies, thai tea frappes, and the like). 

I went straight for the decadent looking smoothies.   Not that they are made with junk food or anything, but these are not healthy smoothies.  These are intense.

The mango smoothies are made with mango puree and fresh mango, and come blended with many different options: coconut sago on top, young coconut or pearls at the base, blended with coconut cream and purple sticky rice, topped with cheese foam, and more.  Maybe these are reasonably healthy?

The coconut versions are what caught my eye however, made with coconut cream.  I wanted ... most of them.  Taro coconut, which looked loaded with taro pase.  The coconut sago super mango, with small sago blended with the coconut cream, and tons of mango on top.  Um, the coconut creamy pandan.  The salted egg coco smoothie (!).
Foi Thong Pandan Coconut Smoothie with Taro Balls (+Purple Sticky Rice). $9.80.
But I went for the most decadent looking one of all: the foi thong pandan coconut smoothie with taro balls.  The photo boosted a creamy coconut smoothie, topped with pandan cream, lovely purple taro balls, and a nest of foi thong.  And because I'm crazy, I added purple sticky rice as well (note: they don't really support add-ins, unlike most drink shops, they have only a preset menu, no toppings menu, or structure for charging for additions.  But they are new, and did it for me).

My drink was very carefully made to order, the purple sticky rice, coconut cream, and ice blended up nicely.  And then, beautiful green pandan cream scooped on top, a mound of foi thong added, and taro balls somehow perched on top without them falling in.  A pandan leaf finished it off.  It really didn't take that long to assemble, but it was clear that care was put into it.

I was extremely impressed with my drink (er, dessert, who are we kidding, this is not a drink!), but I do admit that my addition of purple sticky rice actually wasn't a great decision.

The coconut smoothie was very good - it was creamy, rich, indulgent, refreshing, and quite coconut-y.  It was extremely well blended, icy in the right way.  I think it did have some pandan in the smoothie too?  The sticky rice was good - it was al dente the way I like, and was very well blended.  I actually really liked how it got a bit icy as the drink sat a bit, and it was exposed to the icy filling.  But ... as I said, I think it detracted.  I tasted it, and although I liked the chew, I actually just wanted to taste the pure flavors better, the pandan, the coconut cream, the taro.  Because they were good, and the rice kinda muddled it.  Definitely my fault on that one.  It was still good, don't get me wrong, but I'd leave it off in the future.

The smoothie was good, but the toppings were ... fabulous.  The pandan cream was extraordinary.  Such strong pandan flavor, such rich cream.  I think it might have been coconut based too?  The drink came with plenty of it, and, nutrition concerns aside, I was thrilled.  It made me immediately want to try the pandan crepes, as they come with a big dollop of it on top.

The taro balls however were the showstopper.  Simply the best I've ever had.  Soft yet not mushy, pliable in the right way, and lovely taro flavor.  These were just incredible.  Slightly out of place perched on top here, but I didn't care.  I loved them.  The taro balls are featured in a number of other desserts on the menu (including the combo mango sticky rice which has just about everything delicious imaginable in it).  I must get them in another application, stat!

Finally, the foi thong, which was fine, and slightly savory-ish, a nice compliment to the sweeter ingredients.  I did get the smoothie not sweet (50% or 100% were the choices), but it was definitely still quite sweet.

Overall, this was delicious, and made me instantly vow to return the next day, and made me wish I was there with a group to try many, many more things.
Taro Coconut Smoothie (+ Pandan Cream). $7.80 + $1.
I did literally return the next day.  I'll admit that I was craving a yogurt drink, and taro in particular, so Mango Coco wasn't really the best choice of venue (they do have some yogurt items, but, it isn't the feature, and I think likely coconut yogurt?), and they have only one item with taro, but ... I dunno, I couldn't get that pandan cream out of my head.

So I got the one taro drink on the menu, the taro coconut smoothie, and, uh, added pandan cream on top.  This time I was charged $1 for the addition, and was rewarded with a pretty serious mound of pandan cream.

The pandan cream was just as amazing as the previous day.  Such lovely pandan flavor, so fluffy, just, incredible.  Move over cheese foam toppings, you have met your match!  I do still love savory fluffy cheese foam toppings but ... this was pretty fantastic.

The smoothie though ... well, I guess it wasn't what I was in the mood for.  I also didn't realize it wouldn't be more taro forward, and that it wouldn't have any mashed or cubed taro in it.  Like I said, I was craving taro ...  The smoothie base was just coconut cream and ice blended, like all the coconut smoothies.  It was really well made, the ice pulverized, nicely icy, but ... it was very strongly coconut, and that wasn't what I was in the mood for.

The taro layer was on top, and ... I just didn't really taste it at all, even though it was a vibrant purple.  I think it was blended with coconut too?  I wanted more taro, and more texture.

So, this let me down, but not because it was poorly made.  I wanted a taro forward item, with chunks or paste, and didn't really want coconut ... my bad for not just going to get the taro yogurt from Koomi like I was intending ... but that pandan cream was so good I almost didn't care.

Food

And then there is the food lineup, sweet, savory, full meals, epic desserts, packaged grab n go ...

Savory

There is actually a full Thai savory food menu, with traditional Thai offerings (e.g your basic curries, noodle dishes, fried rice) but also fusion dishes, like tom yum spaghetti.  I wished they had some appetizers or smaller plates, because I would like to be able to get a small bite of savory before diving into a dessert fest, but alas, they seem to only do main dishes (or a papaya salad I guess).

Breads

The front counter has some assorted bakery items, I'm not sure if they make them themselves or not.  None looked particularly exciting, but I almost grabbed a pork floss bun (with chili jam or mayo), or a loaf of pork floss bread, so I'd have something savory.  At last minute, I grabbed some sweet buns "for later", or just in case my sweet treat wasn't appealing.
Pandan Custard Buns. $3.90.
Buns come in 4 flavors: pandan custard, Thai tea, butter sugar, or cream.  The sugar coated ones did look good, but, clearly, there was only one option: pandan!

Buns come 2 to a container, and, tbh, didn't actually look particularly special.  Even Breadtop  and 85* Bakery Cafe look better.

But still, come on, pandan custard was too tempting to pass up.  It was easy to know which one was pandan, with the bright green cream spilling out.
Pandan Custard Filling.
I eagerly ripped into one.

The bread was soft, fluffy, slightly sweet.  It would be better warm, or toasted (like with the lava toast or toast hot pots), but I really just wanted a vessel for pandan custard, and it served that purpose.  I did warm the second bun in my mini-oven, and as I expected, it was even better warm.

The pandan custard was not quite what I think of as a custard, as it was much looser.  It was very different from their pandan cream from the drinks, grainier, more concentrated, but also not quite as strongly flavored, if that makes any sense?  It was very very sweet.  The color was very bright green.

And there was tons of it.  The buns were stuffed to the brim.  Almost too much given how sweet it was, but when I added some of the more mild pandan cream as well, it tempered it nicely.

This custard I believe is the same that is found inside the pandan crepes.

I enjoyed the buns, and I liked them more than anything from the Asian bakeries around, but if I were getting just one thing, I wouldn't pick them.  They were great for a take-home item though.

Plated Desserts

The dessert lineup, for dine-in desserts, is, simply put, epic.  Pages and pages and pages of offerings.  And it is all illustrated, to make it *that* much harder to pick.

Sooo many lava toasts, including a durian one, with durian ice cream, durian lava, durian sauce, sticky rice, mango pearls, and fresh fruit ...  Pages of bingsu, like the Coconut Lod Chong Bingsu, with pandan rice flour droplets, coconut cream, coconut jelly, coconut palm sugar sauce.  Churros with dipping sauces.  Filled crepes (with mango and sticky rice inside, or durian, pandan custard!).  

And then, the puddings.  Coconut pudding, mango pudding, thai tea pudding, but, they are not just puddings.  Take the mango one for example.  Sure, there is mango pudding, but it comes with coconut ice cream, taro balls, coconut sticky rice, fresh mango, and coconut cream sauce.  Or just fresh mango, milk sago, and rich mango sauce if you want the simple version.  Or paired with a mango sticky rice crepe and mango sorbet, if you just can't make up your mind, and opt for the Mango Paradise.  Same with the coconut pudding.  Yes, there is a base of coconut pudding, but also young coconut meat, fresh mango, mango jelly, mango sauce, sago, and coconut creamy sauce.

It is enough to cause even a good decision maker decision paralysis.  Oh, wait, there is also crème brûlée.  Coconut and pandan version of course.  And it comes with berries, mango pearls, and coconut gelato.

But alas, I never got a chance to dine in for these epic things, mostly because they really aren't designed for a solo person. 

Packaged Desserts

Along with the bakery breads and cakes, Mango Coco also has some Thai desserts packaged up near the register.  Most looked like exactly the same as found at every other shop on the street, same containers even, and I don't think they make them there.

But they also had one clearly Mango Coco branded item.  Placed strategically all along the front counter, clearly designed to be an impulse buy item, and, hey, I succumbed.
Mango Sticky Rice To-go. $8.
"Mango sticky rice is a traditional Thai dessert made with glutinous rice, fresh mango and coconut milk."

While the real dessert menu has a slew of creations with mango and sticky rice in them (seriously, the combo one with mango pudding, coconut ice cream, taro balls, coconut sticky rice, fresh mango, coconut cream sauce ...),  they also have pre-packaged simple ones available for grab and go at the counter.

Of course I grabbed one.  The packaging was well done: a base was coconut sticky rice, above that was cubes of fresh mango, and the coconut milk was in a separate container.  Proportions seemed spot on.

This was definitely very good.  Many Thai places around have mango sticky rice, and I often get it as takeaway, and none have ever been this good.  The quality of the mango is what sets it apart.  So very juicy, so very ripe.  Seriously fantastic mango.

The rice was good, coconut milk infused, good chew to it, slightly sticky.  I wanted it warm, so I warmed it up myself at the hotel in my portable oven, and it was better than way.  The rice was good, but not remarkable.

The coconut milk/cream was pretty standard, I almost wanted it to be salted or something to jazz it up, but, this was just classic coconut milk and completed the traditional style of the dish.

To my (now warm) rice and mango, I added a dollop of pandan cream from my smoothie, and some of the coconut icey slush from my smoothie, and really adored my more fully composed creation.  It was almost like one of their own restaurant creations!  But even just as it was, room temp, the quality of the mango really made it a tasty enough item as served, and it would be a good choice for a quick grab n go.

Packaged Snacks

And finally, there are a few packaged snacks, not made by Mango Coco (I later realized when I saw the labels said "It's Time for Thai", and listed Newtown as the location).  I grabbed a few of these as well.
Golden Bird's Nest. $5.
Another impulse buy on my part.  I didn't really know what Golden Bird's Nest was, or why I'd want it exactly, but it looked like a crunchy snack?

Which, it was.  Made from threads of sweet potato, sugar, salt, oil.  It was super crispy, but very sweet.  I wasn't sure when I was supposed to want it.  It wasn't really a dessert, but it also wasn't really a snack as it was so sweet.

I could imagine using it as part of a dessert, sprinkling it on things, or even sprinkled on a spicy curry to cool it?
Crispy .... Something?
I also grabbed the other snack item, this one not labelled.

I asked if it was sweet or savory, and was told it was savory.  I think she even said it was made from beans or chickpeas.

But it was not savory.   It was sweet.  Kinda like a waffle cone, studded with black sesame seeds, and coated in sugar.  Very sweet, very crispy, and would be fun on an ice cream sundae.  But totally not what I was expecting.

Mango Coco Thai Dessert Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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