Last updated on January 20, 2023
Carlton’s Lygon Street has been a place for gelato for a long time. A gelato crawl of all the places has been on our list for some time, but the most we’ve managed was two stops. Can you improve on tradition though? Beku Gelato certainly breaks the mould.
There was still a long line when we stopped by about an hour before their closing time. It can be a bit hard to spot the sign from the street, as it is oriented so you really see it best if you’re approaching along the walkway. It is pretty discrete signage as well, with “beku” in light blue against a light peach background. Just look for the queue though, and join on.
It did take a little while to move through, but the blackboard out front with the many, many available flavours written out neatly in chalk gave patrons the opportunity to consider which ones they might like. Given the number of options, it was just as well that there was a bit of time in line.
Their flavours are definitely a standout from all the other offerings at the other gelato shops on Lygon Street. Apart from pistachio and a couple of the fruit sorbets, there really aren’t any other flavours that you would consider “typical”.
The store itself is quite simple in design and colour palette, with off-white walls and ceiling, and wooden floorboards. Spherical pendant lights were suspended just over the service counter, giving off a warm glow. As in other classical gelati places, the gelati were stored in pozzetti (as we have mentioned in Hareruya Pantry and La Macelleria), so you may not get the array of colour, but it keeps the gelati at the right temperature for your subsequent eating. There is no seating space inside, though there are a few tables and chairs in the covered walkway outside.
It was helpful that there was just enough space marked out for patrons to come in in a single line. This made ordering more organised, rather than at some gelati shops where people just wander in and cluster around the counter, and whoever happens to be able to catch the server’s attention gets served first, regardless of who was actually there first.
Staff were cheerful and friendly, even towards the end of the day. They were patient with patrons asking to try gelato flavours – given how different their flavours are from the norm, this is probably a given as part of the decision-making process. Even for people familiar with the components, there were some quite unique combinations. It does add to the waiting time for those in line, but when it comes to your turn, you do appreciate the ability to test before you commit to your scoops, so it all evens out in the end.
We tried the Ketan Hitam, black sticky rice with coconut milk. It was mild, but had the right notes.
We also tried the Milky Lychee Yuzu, which had, as you might expect, lychee and yuzu, but not as a sorbet, which those flavours are more typically done as. It was more lychee than yuzu, and a little reminiscent of the Yeo’s lychee drinks, though not as sweet. The yuzu was just present in the finish though.
We also tested the Paan, which was Betel leaf, rose petals, and fennel seeds. This was an interesting mix with a mellow, almost savoury undertone to it. The rose was definitely present as well, adding a floral higher note.
Cendol was one of our initial choices, a mix of coconut milk, pandan palm sugar, and pandan jelly for those unfamiliar with it. (See here for a good example of cendol.) It sold out just before we ordered, but staff kindly let us have a taste of the remnant skerricks. It had a definite gula melaka flavour, a balance of that roasted caramelisation without being too sweet. It was also coconutty, and was a very good rendition of the popular dessert. It was easy to see why it was so popular.
The flavours we ultimately chose for our scoops were Calamansi sorbet, Teh Tarik, Houjicha, and Pandan Rice Pudding.
The Calamansi had a fresh zing and clear citrus flavour, without being too sour. This was evidently balanced out so that it wouldn’t be too jarring when had with other sweeter flavours.
The Teh Tarik has a good, strong flavour, which replicated the floral tea notes you get in a teh tarik, and sweetness.
The Pandan Rice Pudding, which is new in their lineup, had a light, but present pandan flavour. It was also not too sweet, and had grains of rice scattered through it. However they managed it, despite it being a frozen dessert, the rice grains remained soft, rather than having that crunch you can get from even refridgerated rice.
The Houjicha also had present floral flavours. It was less earthy and a bit less strong than the Houjichocolate at Hareruya Pantry, but it was still good.
Beku Gelato is definitely worth the trip, and worth the wait in line. Their gelati were smooth, and had great flavours that were both interesting and true to what they promised. This, and the not far away Hareruya Pantry (yes, we have mentioned it a few times), are certainly stops you should have on the next gelati crawl you plan.
Price point: $8 for a double scoop, which is about the going price these days.
Value: Worth it, for what you get.
Address: 150 Lygon St, Carlton
Website: Beku Gelato