382 Pitt St
Sydney, NSW 2000
I’d like to think of myself as too old and too world-weary to be sucked in by Instagram-worthy food. After all, I’ve been burned before by restaurants that proffer up food that looks good, but doesn’t do much else. Except as it turns out, I’m not quite as dead inside as I thought, because when photos like this started popping up on my Instagram feed, I was sucked in, hook, line, and sinker.
Old School Ka-Fey, recently re-branded as Old Garden Kaffee, is currently the hottest (or is that the coldest) place to get your dessert on. For those of you familiar with Asian dessert cafes, the offerings are Old Garden are pretty typical. Think giant slabs of buttered brioche toast topped with strawberries and Nutella, heavily garnished waffle stacks, and rich, thick frappes. But what gets people lining up all days of the week is the bingsoo, which has been widely recognised to be the best in Sydney.
Covetable desserts aside, the interior of the café is just as likely to get your ‘like’ count shooting up on social media. Decked out in a style I can only describe as a steampunk garden, the remarkable combination of flower and foliage amongst the vintage knick-knacks would elicit a sense of wonder in all but the hardest of hearts.
With a dozen variations of bingsoo on the menu, ranging from the classic matcha to the indulgent choco monster, there’s something for everyone here, even if you’re not a fan of Asian desserts. I went straight for the Old School Milk Tea Bingsoo ($16.9), which seems to be a unanimous favourite.
Piled high and topped with a crown of cream and fairy floss, the bingsoo really is a sight to behold. It tasted as good as it looked too, the shaved ice impossibly fluffy and light, melting on the tongue with a refreshing sweetness, and a hint of bitterness from the tea. There’s even a little pot of condensed milk on the side if you like things super sugary. And that’s not even the full story. Hidden at the bottom is a treasure trove of slippery jellies, and a handful of cornflakes, which may sound odd, but actually adds a delightful crunch to the cold creaminess.
Less than a week later, I was back to try the Mango Cheese Pie Bingsoo ($16.9). This came out just as tall and pretty as the milk tea bingsoo, except instead of tea-flavoured ice and condensed milk, the ice was milk-flavoured, and garnished with mango pieces in syrup. There was additional mango syrup on the side, which I of course proceeded to immediately drizzle on top.
This was every bit as good as the milk tea version, the shaved ice equally as soft and airy, the mango syrup adding a delicious tropical sweetness. But instead of jellies and corn flakes at the bottom, this had a cache of more mango pieces, plus chunks of biscuit like you’d find at the base of a cheesecake.
Old garden Kaffee is so popular that both times I’ve visited, there were lines out the door by the time we were done eating, and frankly it’s not hard to see why. Not only are both the interior and food utterly Instagrammable, it’s also backed by some very luscious desserts indeed. Just make sure you go early, otherwise you’ll be stuck with a wait that is much less sweet.
Rating: 13/20 – big-soo
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.