Cafe Bora is a Korean dessert chain that loves its purple sweet potatoes.
Marking its first entry into Canada with a subsurface store in Yorkville, almost everything at Cafe Bora is made from the sweet, fleshy bodies of purple yams.
Bora means purple in Korean, so it's no surprise all the accents in the cafe are violet-hued. Like the majority of its menu items, Cafe Bora's interior is simple and clean.
Priding itself in an all-natural recipe, the brand (which has more locations in Thailand and L.A.) uses purple sweet potatoes—or goguma— harvested and processed on a farm in Korea.
There, the potatoes are turned into a paste, then frozen, before being sent here in the form of Bora sauce.
The resulting sauce is the basis for the majority of menu items, though matcha lovers will find an equal amount of green tea-based alternatives here too.
A cup of purple sweet potato soft serve ($5.95) lets you taste the flavours that Cafe Bora is famous for in the most unhindered way possible.
There's nothing artificial-tasting about this ice cream, in fact it's pleasantly surprising to find the natural flavour of purple yams really shine through.
Using a simple recipe of milk, condensed milk, and sweet potatoes, there's no artificial colouring to give the ice cream that pretty purple hue.
And unlike other regular soft serve that's loaded with sugar, the sweetness here is perfectly subtle.
Bingsu is a hit all over Asia and it's definitely catching on in Toronto with dessert chains that let you deck out your shaved ice with all sorts of candy and flavours.
Cafe Bora keeps their bingsu ($9.95) extra basic.
Mixing a little milk sauce into the shaved ice, bingsu here is simply topped with a drippy layer of sweet potato purée which oozes over to look (not coincidentally) a lot like their blobby logo.
It's served with a trio of stacked sides: the top layer is a decorative bowl of candied walnut and sweet potato chips, which are made in Korea.
With more chew than your usual sweet potato chip, you can use these flavourful scoopers as spoons for your bingsu.
Below that is extra yam purée, and at the bottom, a mix of milk and condensed milk to add to your liking.
Purple sweet potato lattes ($5.95) have that same all-natural flavour, and as with the rest of their drinks, comes with a custom (not so environmentally-friendly) drink sleeve that seems handy at first but gets a little soggy over time.
The tiramisu ($9.95) is definitely a highlight. If you've never seen it made before, you can watch them assemble it for you from scratch.
Consisting of three layers—spongy cake, a sweet potato purée base, then a cheesy cream—it's almost viscerally rewarding to watch yam powder being sprinkled on top.
As with all the other desserts, you won't be accosted by any heavy flavours. The cheese is light and blends with the subtleness of the yam for a really light treat.
And if you're trying to take a break from all the yams, a citron sparkling latte ($5.25) is an incredibly refreshing drink with a strong rind flavour.
Delicious while not over-indulgent, Cafe Bora delivers on an elegant treat that's worthy of its covetable Yorkville real estate, while opting out of the area's penchant for being too extra.