399 Bar plays host to pop-up events from time to time and one of the latest has been Sweets ‘N’ Soul, featuring a dessert bar, soul music and special matching cocktails. A sneak peek at the menu and one thing really appealed to me: the use of Asian flavours, such as pandan, kopi-o (sometimes written as kopi oh), red bean and black sesame.
The creator of these sweet treats, Chef T, travelled to Asia after completing his apprenticeship and worked for six years in Singapore. His desserts utilise flavours and ingredients that draw on his Singaporean experience but they are contemporary creations made using modern techniques, imaginative dessert art bearing little resemblance to traditional Asian desserts.
Having missed the boat to be part of the popular Twilight Hawkers Market, Chef T searched for other opportunities for a creative culinary outlet. Inspired by the pop-up empanada stall by Marcelita’s Empanadas at Bar 399 last year, Chef T approached 399 with his idea for a pop-up dessert bar.
There were six desserts on the menu ranging in price from AU$3 to $8. T intends to have a new menu each month, so the desserts pictured in this blog post may not be available next time. I’d planned to have a friend with me to help me eat our way through all six desserts, but it didn’t quite work out, so I was there on my own on Friday evening the 15th of March.
First, pandan, caramel, shortbread (AU$3) which T told me (and showed me) is very quick to make, served in a free range egg shell in the style of famous New York chef Michael Laiskonis. The salted caramel fizzed up and I almost ended up wearing it but what I did eat was delicious, with gorgeous green pandan cream at the bottom, though I thought the pandan could’ve been stronger in flavour to stand up against that rich salty caramel.
Next, baked custard, kopi-o, hazelnut (AU$5), a generous serving. I liked the chewiness of the baked custard, sprinkled with hazelnut dukkah (like muesli, but better!), sitting in kopi-o (black coffee) cream.
In honour of my friend Prez who loves everything red bean, I next chose the green tea, mascarpone and red bean (AU$6), which is essentially a green tea tiramisu, complete with lady finger biccies and a layer of red bean caramel right at the bottom. I dug my spoon right down to get a taste of the caramel and was delighted to discover real red beans in it.
By this time I had eaten three out of traiteur’s six desserts and as much as I wanted to, couldn’t manage any more. But I managed to photograph another: chocolate, peanut, mango (AU$8), made with 70% chocolate ganache, crystallised and caramelised peanuts and preserved mango.
The matching cocktails were popular with the crowd that night. There were three to choose from:
- The Maple Mac ($15): whiskey, ginger wine and maple, served on the rocks with cinnamon and a lemon twist.
- The Porter Flip ($17.50): dark rum, dark beer, sweet sherry, a whole egg and raw sugar.
- The 399 Mocha martini ($18): espresso, chocolate liqueur, vodka and dark choc dusting.
A special cocktail would likely leave me legless and make getting home a bit challenging, so I asked for a mocktail instead. Bearded barman Bill with the magnificent shirt didn’t hesitate and created me a refreshing drink that tasted of citrus, ginger and mint, with lots of ice.
“What is it called?” I asked.
“Cynthia’s Surprise,” he replied with a grin. What a charmer!
I’ve been to 399 Bar a few times now. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming, and the staff are genuinely friendly. The guys behind the bar are creative, know their stuff and don’t mind conjuring up mocktails for the not-really-drinkers like me.
Sweets ‘N’ Soul – next on 12 April
The pop-up dessert bar will be back at 399 Bar on 12 April, available from 6pm until sold out.
From Chef T, a sneak peek of the menu for the next pop-up dessert bar:
date, miso, apple $3
carrot, green tea, tamarind $6
black garlic, coffee, orange $6
lemon, sumac, ginger $8
strawberry, sour plum, crème fraiche $8
small sweet things $3
You can get the latest on Sweets ‘N’ Soul and other events at 399 including Paella Party on 5 April and Cocktails and Oysters with Carl Thee Shucker shucking and dressing fresh oysters on 19 April at the 399 Bar Facebook page.
399 William Street, Perth (the Brisbane Street end of William St)
Telephone: 0417 388 257
I won’t be able to make it to the next Sweets ‘N’ Soul – Jac and I are flying out to New Zealand later this week – although I’ve travelled to international destinations in the past couple of years, this will be the first overseas holiday for Jac and me together. As usual, I’ll be updating Facebook and Twitter while away. And don’t forget to check for new blog posts next week, on Monday and Thursday.