Many times Iíve found myself at Chinatown in the Sydney CBD when Iíve noticed a huge queue at the Paddyís Market end of Dixon Street. People happily line up for these mysterious creations called Emperorís Puffs.
Emperor's Garden Cake & Bakery
Between the Emperorís Garden Restaurant and Emperorís Garden Cakes & Bakery is a small window from where the queue trails. With a curious mind, I knew one day Iíd find myself at the front of that queue.
Sure enough, the other day, Iím in Chinatown and noticed the queue wasnít quite as long as it normally is. So, without hesitation, I jumped on the end.
The sign on the wall says Emperorís Puffs are just 30 cents each or 4 for $1. That sounds reasonable, so what did I have to lose.
The queue is usually long
Itís no wonder the queue is always long and slow. People buy dozens of these things at the one time. Although I was only about six people from the front, it took me almost 10 minutes to reach the window.
Inside, a machine cranks out a small ball of light pastry, and then injects it with steaming hot custard.
The sign warns you that these things are hot. Take the sign seriously.
Emperor's Garden Restaurant
When I reached the front of the line, there was another sign that warned ĎNo photos.í Why itís there Iím not quite sure. Perhaps too many people were holding up the queue taking photos. Or perhaps theyíre worried someone will copy the puff making machine. Who knows? And just what happens if you do flaunt the rule and snap one out for Instagram? I wasnít about to find out in case I miss out on my puffs.
Donít expect friendly service. You wonít get a Ďhello,í a Ďplease,í a Ďthank you,í or a smile. Not even any form of eye contact. Just a quick cash transaction, puffs in a bag, and away you go.
So what are the Emperorís Puffs like?
Worth the wait? Yes.
In a word, delicious.
The custard is very hot and catches you by surprise, because the puff pastry on the outside cools faster.
The custard is thick with a nice eggy taste; not too sweet but satisfying as a treat.
The Chinese, while superb at savoury cooking, are not renowned for their sweets and desserts. This one was very nice. And who could argue with the value?
However, to be honest, I prefer an Italian or French custard sweet.
Where: 96-100 Hay Street Haymarket NSW
Why: Great value little balls of flavour
Cost: 30 cents each or four for $1
When: Every day from midday till 9pm
Good for kids: Yes, but be careful, they are hot on the inside.
Take away: Nothing but take away.