When I lived in Paris I would have a hot chocolate every morning. It was what coffee is to most; a necessary part of my morning. The hot chocolate wasn’t anything fancy, there were no bells and whistle to speak of. It was just good chocolate mixed into good milk and drunk in a rush. I call these the dailys. This was always accompanied by a pain au chocolate (chocolate croissant), freshly baked, chocolate still warm inside.
Chu has my Perth daily hot chocolate/pain au chocolate combo, although I don’t actually have the chance (or the budget, these daily necessities cost a whole lot more in Australia then they do in Paris!) to enjoy it daily, more like weekly. In addition to good hot chocolates I have had my share of good croissants and this one is a very very good one, the best in Perth I’m sure, but also, most days, able to compete on the international croissant stand. It is made using the same Valhrona chocolate as their hot chocolate so, to me at least, that is a cue that they were really meant to be enjoyed together. If you don’t go for the chocolate croissant there are some other surprising options. Playing on their name, they have a range of colourful options made by filling chu pastry with flavours such as lychee and raspberry or caramel. They also have the most ridiculously good chili passion fruit donuts and yes that is an unexpected but completely amazing combination.
Your hot chocolate will be delivered via a small window on the side of an equally small pastry shop where an army of pastry chefs and staff create, cook and sell everything to a steady stream of individuals everyday but in particular all weekend long. You order inside and then congregate on the street corner waiting for your name to be called when your order is ready. Drinks are served in paper cups which, if you follow my blog, you will know that I hate. But in this case they come in handy because once you pick up you take it, cross the street and set yourself up in gorgeous Hyde Park. This isn’t just a city park, it is the city park that all other city parks are jealous of. It supplies Chu with a steady supply of patrons and Chu powers Hyde Park because there is really nothing else around but homes. A perfect set up.
The smart move is from owners Seren and Ryan Chu who are self taught. If only I could teach myself to make croissants like that…I’d never leave home. They only opened this spot up two years ago and, apart from amazing pastries and drinks, have really friendly staff. Perthites are friendly, but not like this. They thank you when you pick up your order which I have always though most businesses should do but few actually do. Chu does. Apparently they sell bread too but in the dozens of times I have visited, I have yet to see a loaf. I assume that is because they are sold out the second they come out of the oven.
Chu and the park are not that far from downtown Perth so even if you are just visiting it is a nice walk to take. From Chu take William St. towards the tall buildings to the city centre. The walk will take you through a bit of a China town with various Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants and stores. You then reach Northbridge with literally has something for everyone. Sushi, record stores, State library, fast food, design hotel. Want to play mini golf in a pub? Check. Missing Heath Ledger? He has a theatre here named after him (he was a local boy). Looking for something interesting to do? Northbridge is the home of a never ending stream of festivals as well as outdoor movies and all sorts of nonsense, some welcome, some not as much. My favourite combination is Gusto Gelato followed by a browse through the independent bookstore next to it. Another perfect match.
Verdict: Unfortunately I suspect that this place is only going to get busier. If you can’t decide on the chocolate croissant or the chili passion fruit donut, get them both and then walk off any extra carbs in the park. The hot chocolate is the cherry on top, even in a paper cup. Chu Bakery, 498 William St, Perth, Australia