The only thing not amazing about this Japanese-influenced café is its punny name
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A tiny glass-and-concrete box of almost surreal Japanese coolness, Café Cre Asion is not completely unlike what you’d get if Muji sold starter kits for Japanese cafés. It sits next to Berta in Alberta Street: six chairs arrayed around a small hexagonal table, a small open kitchen, and that’s it. There’s a couple more seats outside for those keen to suck down a few Parliaments while they’re here. Hexagonal tiles line the floor; piano jazz wends its way through in the air between over-size hanging lightbulbs; and light streams through the windows. A counter case holds scores of macarons in glass tubes, and the likes of 'chocolate salty balls', 'peanuts butter' biscuits and salted chocolate cookies are captioned with label-maker tape. The shelves are lined with cookbooks that allude to owner/chef Yu Sasaki’s interests: volumes from Tartine and Noma, from Alain Ducasse and master pâtissiers Oriol Balaguer and Pierre Hermé. On the table is a bottle of house-made caramel vanilla marked 'TRY ME!!' It’s slightly mad and utterly charming.
The small-but-perfectly-formed theme carries through to the menu. There’s not much on it, but everything there has earned its place. The ham toastie equals jamón serrano, Heidi farm Gruyère, while the vego sandwich is tomato, kalamata olive and house-made ricotta. Boo-ya. Smoked salmon, pickled fennel and capers pressed between layers of toasted focaccia (from a choice of house-baked breads) is almost like geometry in its pristine lines, and the soft-yolked egg garnish is an elegant touch. Japanese tea is offered along with the (admittedly exxy) Mariage Frères teas and well-made Single Origin Coffee, and the (organic) juices and water are similarly slick. Hell, even the tap water comes from carafes purified with whopping great big pieces of Japanese charcoal.
Chef Sasaki counts Universal and Marque among his alma maters, and you can see his expertise in the clarity of his flavours and the precision of his technique. Things that are supposed to be soft are creamy and lush; things that are supposed to be crisp snap in gratifying manner. And yep, his macarons are the real deal. Whether you’re looking at the classics – well-flavoured pistachio (Sasaki’s favourite, incidentally), dark chocolate or coffee, say – or the more out-there likes of avocado and pepper or white miso (think a sort of salted-caramel character and you’re almost there), they show every sign of being right up there with Sydney’s best, combining delicacy and chew in well-judged proportion. Better still, the flavours change all the time, giving you another excuse to pay repeat visits. We’ll see you there.