COMECO FOODS ★★★★
524A King Street, Newtown, comecofoods.com.au
Comeco Foods in Newtown might be the most inclusive cafe in Sydney: its food is entirely vegan and gluten-free. Anyone used to dodging their way around a menu because they have a shellfish allergy, are a coeliac diner or can’t eat meat will feel incredibly welcome here. And even if you face no dietary roadblocks, you should head to Comeco Foods anyway, because this Japanese cafe is worth a visit (or three).
Comeco Foods in Newtown specialise in vegan and gluten-free foods. Credit:James Brickwood
Great care goes into its signature sourdough doughnuts: the staff grinds organic brown rice and mixes it with other ingredients, leaving the dough to ferment for two to three days before frying the doughnuts to order in rice bran oil.
Enjoy them topped with raspberry custard, the caffeinated punch of coffee and cocoa, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar or filled with spiced apples. There’s an Asian influence, too: the sourdough doughnuts are available with the green tea complexity of matcha custard, a sweet adzuki bean paste or a savoury filling of Japanese curry.
These snackable pastries may have a crowd-pleasing quality, but they’re inspired by one individual: a boy who can’t eat conventional doughnuts due to severe gluten, egg, nut, seed and dairy allergies. Co-owner Yu Ozone wanted to create something he could enjoy without any risk of him going into anaphylactic shock, so she spent a long time developing these treats.
Comeco Foods' signature sourdough doughnuts - (from left) mocha custard, raspberry custard and macha custard.Credit:James Brickwood
Steering clear of baking staples (such as egg, dairy and wheat) while trying to make something delicious is a real feat, and she’s pulled it off at Comeco Foods. Not only that, but Ozone also grinds the flour in-house, so she can confirm there’s no risk of allergens contaminating her food.
There’s not a single trace of gluten, egg or peanuts in Comeco Foods’ kitchen either, with separate dishes and washing sponges used for anything involving the cafe's nut products. This conscientious approach is why Ozone ensures her kitchen is open. “We would like to customers to see what ingredients we use,” she says. “If there is any concern, we would like to be asked.”
Ozone also practices what she preaches — she had to cut dairy, egg and gluten from her diet after these allergens left her constantly ill — so she knows what it’s like having to forensically scour the entire ingredient list of a dish. It’s what led to her starting Comeco Foods in 2017: she wanted to create vegan and gluten-free food that other people could enjoy, too, including her husband, Masa Haga. The business has existed in market-stall and pop-up form previously, but it opened as a permanent eatery down Newtown’s south end in May.
This cute cafe serves doughnuts through the week, and vegan sushi on the weekend. So if you’re there on a Saturday or Sunday, you might see staff blowtorching serves of the excellent barbecue sushi roll, which is wrapped in charred inari (tofu) and flavoured with eggplant miso.
Or perhaps you’ll see them topping lotus chips and curry mayonnaise on the sukiyaki roll, or raining chilli flakes on the shiitake mushroom tempura sushi coated in chilli mayonnaise.
The black sesame and matcha lattes at Comeco Foods in Newtown. Credit:James Brickwood
And like any good cafe, you can ask for coffee here. But try the black sesame latte prepared with tahini, organic maple syrup and soy milk. It’s more proof that Comeco Foods can offer something that’s vegan and gluten-free, and it doesn’t feel lesser — just full-flavoured and delicious.
Main attraction: Doughnuts and sushi that anyone can enjoy — the sugar-dusted doughnuts and flavour-packed sushi rolls are all vegan and gluten-free.
Must-try dish: The mocha coffee custard doughnut and, if they’re available, the barbecue sushi roll, which is blowtorched to order.
Insta-worthy dish: Raspberry custard doughnut with its bright-pink coating and berry on top – or the elaborate curry sukiyaki sushi roll.
Drinks: From $4 for single-origin coffee, but consider trying the black sesame and matcha lattes, given Comeco Foods’ Japanese focus.
Prices: From $5 for a sweet potato brownie to $18 for frozen vegan karaage (in take-home form).
Open: Tue-Fri midday to 5pm (doughnuts only); Sat-Sunday 10am to 2pm (for doughnuts and vegan sushi).