Rainbow cheese toast. Colourful acai bowls. Ombre-effect bubble tea. What these foods have in common is that they all look pretty and are guilty of spamming Instagram way too often. Yet, we are the willing victims of the hipster food phenomenon, hunting down the next aesthetically-pleasing dish to fit into our perfectly curated feed. Well, where better to do so than in the city of avocado toasts and watermelon cakes? Cafes in Sydney are a creative bunch, constantly putting out the next best dish for its patrons.

The best part is that none of these dishes is gimmicky at all. They’ve been tweaked from their original designs, testing the boundaries of form but never straying away in taste. From poke bowls in a cone to a blue-coloured dip made out of butterfly pea flowers and bubble tea pearls in a sundae cup, the varieties that these cafes in Sydney offer are vast. Read on to discover them all, and visit them the next time you’re in Sydney.

Valet by V Lounge

When at Valet cafe in Cabramatta, be sure to order the Beach Balls, a snack of a dish that’s as delicious as it is pretty. It is essentially deep fried sweet potato mochi balls paired with a blue butterfly pea flower custard as the dipping sauce. A quick glance of it will immediately remind you of a sunny day at the beach, with the dip being the sea and the sweet potato mochi balls the sand. Other noteworthy quirky dishes on their menu include liquid nitrogen-infused Tiramisu bingsu and also a dish of udon topped with salted egg curry sauce that are both delicious and picture-perfect.

(Picture: @glendonww)

Sash Restaurant

Do you love sashimi? Do you also love pizzas (trick question — the answer is always yes)? Head over to Sash in Surry Hills and you’ll find out what happens when the two marries: a “sashizza”. The ingenious idea of sashimi as pizza toppings became so popular at Sash, it’s an award-winning dish. The “sashizza” is made either on squid ink dough or oven-baked rice, and its toppings consist of raw fish, avocado, mango, strawberry, and wasabi mayo. Sounds funky, but the overall flavours actually blend perfectly together.

(Picture: Sash Restaurant)

Manly Wines

Located nearby Manly beach, Manly Wines recently made a few new additions to their spring menu. One of them includes poké cones, which are—as you guessed—poké bowls housed in a waffle cone. These cones are filled with a choice of rice and salad and two available protein: salmon and crispy tofu. Wash it down with the cafe’s signature kombucha cocktails — there’s nothing quite like having a drink while looking out to the beach.

(Picture: @manlywines)

General Chao

Need to satisfy your Asian craving while in Sydney? Head on over to General Chao and feast on their gorgeous-looking Jasmine tea smoked duck dumplings. They also have other decadent offerings including dried scallop and shrimp, jamón and gold leaf, and in-house XO sauces. But for something that will really test the boundaries of your taste buds, try out the Thai green curry ice cream.

(Picture: Destination New South Wales)

Cuckoo Callay

Ramen burgers were a thing once upon a time, but Cuckoo Callay in Newtown has given it its own rendition. Featuring a familiar flavour — mee goreng — this burger is made with maple bacon, house-made kimchi, avocado, and coriander aioli on a potato burger bun. If you’re wondering where the fried noodles come in, just bite into the burger and taste the flavours of the mee goreng chicken thigh. It’s just as well that the burger itself is named “Pimp Mi Goreng”.

(Picture: Destination New South Wales)

Devon Cafe

For Asian-fusion dishes and desserts, head on over to Devon Cafe in the happening district of Barangaroo. But perhaps the dessert that stood out to us among all the quirky ones was the milk tea soft serve topped with black tapioca pearls. Fans of bubble tea will agree that this ice-cold solid version of a bubble tea will appeal to a lot of people.

(Picture: Destination New South Wales)

Mark + Vinny's

So you’ve already seen a blue-coloured dip made out of butterfly pea flowers. What about neon blue pasta then? That’s exactly what Mark + Vinny’s is serving up to you on a plate. But don’t be scared off — no artificial colouring is used in the making of this pasta. The colour is achieved by mixing in a nutrient-dense powdered alga (spirulina) to the flour. The pasta is topped off with blue swimmer crab, bottarga, and bread crumbs. Other brightly-hued pasta on the menu includes a ruby-red beetroot spaghettini paired with truffle and cashew crème fraiche, as well as a charcoal-black bucatini pasta finished with a vegan sweet potato “egg yolk”.

(Picture: Destination New South Wales)

PohNee Chin
Associate Editor
Poh Nee is the associate editor and writes about travel and drinks. When she's not living out her holiday dreams via Google Earth and sipping on an Old Fashioned down at the local bars, you can find her snug at home bingeing on Netflix and mystery fiction.