Looking for a taste of Asian culture but can’t afford a trip overseas? Our very own backyard has so much on offer when it comes to Chinese, Japanese and Korean inspired attractions, shops and cafes.
From rainbow-coloured foods to walls lined with Hello Kitty merchandise, I’ve scouted the streets of Sydney to find our very own hidden gems that are just too damn super kawaii to resist.
Where to eat:
Famous throughout Asia for their uniquely soft & fluffy Japanese cheesecake, Uncle Tetsu‘s only Australian store is definitely worth a visit. The popular franchise began in Fukuoka, Japan where Matcha (green tea) cheesecake is a favourite dessert. Located in the Regent Place Arcade on George Street, you can dine in or take away special flavours of Japanese cheesecake, crepes & tarts, and delicious barista creations!
Located in Sydney’s Skyview Plaza on George Street, i-Creamy is an Italian-style gelato parlour where 24 creamy gelato flavours are made from scratch, in-house everyday. With a countless amount of their flavours donning awards from The Sydney Royal Easter Show, they also whip up fresh sorbet, chocolate and brownies!
Home of the world famous ‘Tella balls’, this cafe has it all! Crepes, waffles, gelato, ice cream, shakes, coffee, doughnuts… so many desserts like you’ve never had before. There’s 2 locations in Sydney – in Concord and Dulwich Hills – and they’re open from 11am to 11pm, but keep an eye out for pop-up shops that appear around the city. And, yes, I know, it’s not exactly Asian inspired, but everything on this menu is 100% worth the trip to the gym you’ll need to take afterwards! #dessertporn
Conveniently situated in the heart of Westfield Sydney on level 4, a pot of tea and some sandwiches at the fashionable Tea Salon is a perfect rest-stop in between retail therapy. High tea – complete with gorgeous cakes, tarts and scones – with a group of friends is a great way to catch up for a birthday or special event, and if their wide selection of tea isn’t your thing, they also have plenty of coffee, iced drinks and champagne available.
True to their name, N2 use liquid nitrogen to flash freeze gelato, right in front of your eyes (don’t worry it’s completely safe and edible)! With ingredients sourced locally, every cup of creamy gelato and sorbet is made to order, and there’s stores 2 stores in Sydney to visit, and be warned – every 2 weeks the flavours change, so you may want to buy a take-home tub of your favourite!
It’s always a good time for a doughnut, and with Doughnut Time‘s ever-expanding menu, there’s a doughnut for every occasion. There’s 7 locations throughout Sydney, fresh trans-fat free doughnuts are hand-made daily from locally sourced ingredients and delivered to stores every few hours. A selection of their amazing creations are limited edition or only available on gluten-free Fridays, so be sure to follow them on Instagram for the latest menu updates!
Adriano Zumbo is one of Australia’s best pastry chefs, and after rising to fame thanks to an appearance on the first season of Masterchef Australia, Zumbo has opened a number of self-titled stores around the country, including Circular Quay, Chatswood and The Star Casino, and each is full of colourful desserts as well as savoury snacks, and there’s even gift cards available so a loved one can order a to-die-for cake or macaron tower!
There mission is simple: to serve silky smooth ice cream that both looks and tastes like a dream come true. Aqua S have ice creameries on George Street, Macquarie Shopping Centre and Westfield Chatswood, offering up delicious and unique flavours like Earl Grey Milk Tea and Tofu! And like a lot of trendy food shops, flavours are changed fortnightly.
Where to shop:
Cute clothes and cute food – what more could you ask for? Kanzi brings the latest Korean fashion to Sydney, with a wide range of clothing and accessories for both men and women – everything from jumpsuits and dresses to loafers and hoodies. With shops in the CBD, Chatswood, Burwood, Strathfield and Cabramatta, there’s plenty of exclusive #OfflineOnly deals to snag, as well as a scrumptious bite to eat at the in-store cafe.
A nice contrast from modern clothing trends, this unique store has incredible pieces themed around the ideas of fairytales, woodland creatures and whimsical art. The colourful print dresses are a favourite, as well as their beautiful range of handcrafted jewellery, bags and home decor. If you love quality, well-made clothing that channels your childhood, a visit to Origami Doll is a must.
Similar to Origami Doll, Monster Threads is a store overflowing with art infused products that mix together folk art, characters, street art and contemporary graphic design.This Australian-made store started at markets throughout Sydney, however the immense popularity of their unique range of apparel, accessories, homewares and stationary has seen a number of stores pop up around the country, including George Street and Newtown in Sydney.
A popular franchise with over 15 locations across Sydney, including Chinatown and Haymarket, Morning Glory has an utterly adorable range of stationary, plush toys, accessories, clothing and cosmetics. There’s a mountain of seriously cute, practical and affordable gifts, and if you’re into K-Pop, they stock a ton of albums and merchandise.
A renowned international bookshop that originates from Japan, Kinokuniya will blow you away with their super cute stationary, gifts and amazing range of books. Seriously, they cater for everyone; there’s books on every topic imaginable available in Japanese, Chinese, English, French and German, as well as a HUGE selection of comic and manga books. Arguably the best bookshop in the country, you’ll need to set aside a few hours (and some cash) to explore the treasures in each aisle – there’s even a little in-store cafe!
Daiso brings you Japan’s fun-meets-functional products, stocking a huge range of quality finds from health and beauty items, cookware and home decor, a jackpot of stationary and craft supplies, electrical and auto accessories, apparel and even food – and the best part? Almost everything in the shop is only $2.80! That’s right – you can buy a bag of chips for the same price as a bottle of foundation or a flower pot for the garden! There’s a lot of i-didn’t-know-i-needed-this kind of products to discover at Daiso, and there’s 9 stores across Sydney including at Marrickville, Chatswood, Parramatta and Chinatown.
Things to do:
Grab a bunch of friends and some spare change and make a pit stop to Purikura Photoland at Capitol Square for some serious Japanese style fun! Try your hand at the wide array of arcade games or treat yourself (and your friends) to a photoshoot in one of the many photobooths, some of which can fit up to ten people! If you like silly photo stickers and skill testing games with utterly adorable prizes, you’ll have an absolute ball!
Amongst the hustle and bustle of Darling Harbour lies absolute tranquillity. the walled Chinese Garden respectfully recreates the harmony of a traditional Chinese garden with waterfalls, lakes, exotic plants, pavilions and hidden pathways. With willows trees swaying in the breeze, koi fish swimming in the lake and a teahouse serving Chinese tea, this is the perfect place to enjoy a catch up with a friend or find a quiet spot to study.
Japan’s beautiful Sakura (cherry blossom) trees are one of nature’s best works of art and an absolute wonder to admire, and they only bloom once a year in August for about 2 weeks. And boy, people sure get excited about the calming qualities of a cherry blossom; the Auburn Botanic Gardens’ Annual Cherry Blossom Festival attracts thousands every year, all eager to grab a photo under the one of the 180 spectacular trees. The festival, which usually runs over 2 weekends, includes Japanese themed demonstrations such as Ikebana (flower arranging), Kendo (Martial Arts) and a number of musical performances. There’s also an art exhibition, origami workshops as well as food and drink stalls. This year’s dates are yet to be announced, so follow the garden’s Facebook page to ensure you don’t miss this event!
Marking the 21st birthday of the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival, which started in Chinatown and now extends all the way to the harbour, more than a million visitors to this year’s festival will enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of Asia and celebrate Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and Korean culture. More than 80 events across Sydney will offer diverse celebrations including tea ceremonies, exploring the moon at Sydney Observatory, lantern workshops, photography exhibitions, dragon boat races and a pop-up food festival at Pyrmont Bay Park. The annual festival is happening right now and goes until 12 February, so check out the website for details before it’s finished for another year!