Sydney’s best baklava shop.
Whenever I meet someone with a different cultural background to me I always ask about food. What do you like to cook? Where do you like to eat in Sydney? Where should I go if I want to find something traditional? Along the way I’ve talked to a lot of community groups, asking the same questions.
With Turkish people it was always a mixed bag when it came to restaurants. Some said Ferah Café & Restaurant, some said Efendy, many said New Star Kebabs, and many more said nowhere in Sydney is any good. When it came to sweets though I heard the same thing over and over again, Gaziantep in Auburn is the best.
Being a great lover of good baklava and a great hater of the terrible over-syruppy poor quality rip off baklava, hearing this was like a Star Wars fan being told the next film was the best one yet not just by another fan but by Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Sofia Coppola.
As soon as I walked in all that excitement was quickly matched by a rising sense of bewilderment. It’s the display, it’s mind boggling. It’s about the length of a car and every cabinet has more names and textures than a succulent garden. There’s baklava with cashew, with walnut and with cream. There’s crispy noodle cakes with cheese, syrupy pistachio rolls, caramelized milk pudding, baked sweet cheeses, rice pudding, galub jamon like doughnuts and candy like crispy dough balls.
All of them are made in the same fastidiously traditional way they would have been made back in Gaziantep many years ago. You can even see it on the TV screen inside the shop – pastry chefs laying out sheets of dough thin enough to use as trace paper and other similarly dexterous jobs that would be instantly disastrous and hilarious if I was doing them, or anyone who isn’t a pastry chef with ten years’ experience – which you should know is the regular amount of time one has to spend to become a competent Turkish sweet maker.
I’d love to be able to point you towards a signature product, or a particular favourite of mine but there simply isn’t an easy option like that. All the sweets here are exquisitely made. The baklava is intricately layered, generously filled with nuts and created with literally the same ingredients pastry chefs use over in Gaziantep (they import all their goods from their hometown, or use what products they can from their own garden). You can feel it all biting into one, all the many layers shattering at once but with a simultaneous honeyed ooze, like eating a kit kat, a doughnut and a honey cake at once. All their other treats, the cheese, the fried goods, the rice pudding, are equally professional.
Choosing between them should be more about what nut you like best of whether you feel like a super sweet option or something super soft. Plus, I feel like the indecision stupefaction I had is a rite of passage here. Everyone should feel that.
The better tip is simply to buy a lot. The more you buy the cheaper it is. Another, although I’ve never tried it myself, is to go early for Turkish breakfast and grab your treats takeaway. It’s a simple and carby occaision with hunks of borek (fried filo pastry stuffed with spinach and cheese, or spiced beef mince) and Turkish coffee, the ultra-strong, granular kind. Nothing elaborate but eminently satisfying and just as cheap.