Nestled away in the corner of Glenferrie Road in a cosy space, Picapika is a brand new dessert venue selling all the waffles of dreams.
Newly opened in September this year, Picapika, with its brightly painted yellow décor and bright bubble gum music, serves Japanese-infused waffles with an array of flavours, toppings and glazes, never seen and tried before by anyone else. Upon walking into the sweet-smelling space, guests are greeted by Lumee, one half of the Picapika duo, who gleefully says “irasshaimase” before eyes are turned to the front counter, which displays a range of Belgian-style waffles in a glass box looking like pieces of art.
“They’re made daily-fresh!” Lumee states, “There’s a huge difference to the taste and flavour,” – and rightfully so. One bite into the pistachio-rose flavoured waffle (one of the more elaborate flavours from the selection) is soft on the inside, but crisp on the outside, with decorated flavouring on top.
The Picapika logo sits loud and big at the very back of the café. Amongst shelves of Japanese imported Matcha powder originated, Lumee smiles brightly and replies, “My son. I think I can say my son is the inspiration for everything in the café, he likes Pikachu (one of the many mascots from the famous Japanese franchise Pokémon), so I took the sound that Pikachu makes, which is “pika pika”, and changed it to Picapika. I was after something unique, memorable and new.”
On the top back shelf of the café, there are tons of Pokémon figurines lined up amongst the many take-away boxes – Lumee states that they’re gifts that loyal Picapika customers get to choose from after visiting a number of times.
Upon inspecting the flavours and concept of Picapika, a noticeable trait is that the flavours and toppings are all unique to the common Belgian waffle, which is usually topped with sweet glazes.
Lumee, who had previously travelled back to Japan several times to explore the different variations of waffles in her homeland, fires away passionately – and one could only smile and listen as she answers. “Well I wanted to do something unique and different – so I explored, and will keep exploring flavours and toppings that are popular in Japan, and what is popular in Melbourne. It’s important to me to be unique but also to able to serve the customers. I know that since opening, our most popular flavours have been more sweet − salted caramel, Nutella and matcha. We have a lot of students from the university campus nearby, Swinburne University, who need a quick bite, so they get the flavours that are easiest to eat. We also have savoury, which is a new experiment for the business– bonito flakes and nori (seaweed), which is usually eaten in Japanese cuisine. ”
As if on cue, the impromptu interview is halted as a group of customers come in for their daily intake of the fluffy treats. Lumee apologises after saying enthusiastically, “This is usually the time it gets busy – the other day it was so busy that I was making egg waffle non-stop!”
There is absolutely no rush in the café, as the relaxed atmosphere allows for customers to hang about to wait on their made-to-order cones, to take pictures (note: truly Instagram worthy) and of course to enjoy the sweet delights.
Cue the explanation of the egg waffle cone, which then becomes the topic of the resumed conversation, “While the waffles originate from Belgium, the egg waffles originate from Hong Kong – Picapika have given them a total Japanese makeover. It tends to take a bit longer to make because we use different batter mixes and toppings for different flavours, but it’s definitely popular!”
With such a devotion to the waffles at hand and an enthusiasm that shines even brighter than the striped yellows walls, Lumee discussed future goals for Picapika. “I’m already thinking of new flavours to make for the waffles – next year I want to do a limited edition for Valentine’s Day. I want to make new flavours every few months – that’s the speciality of Picapika that I want to show to everyone. As for the far off future, I think I’d like to open up another Picapika café, but for now I want to see where the business will take us. From the beginning till now, it’s all been a risk and a challenge, but I’m very optimistic.”
From matcha to honeycomb crumb – even a savoury take on traditional egg waffle with nori and bonito flakes, there is definitely a flavour for everyone to try. And once you try it, it’ll become an irresistible treat that keeps you coming back.
- 20A/674 Glenferrie Road. Hawthorn, VIC 3122
- Tel: 03 9005 5338
- Open: Mon-Fri 12 – 8pm, Sat 12 – 9pm, Sun CLOSED