Melbourne’s bakery battle: Maxim’s vs. Breadtop

When you visit Melbourne’s Chinatown, you have two bakeries to choose from when buying delicious Hong Kong-style cakes and sweets: Breadtop and Maxim’s.

Breadtop is the young entrant in the market – they have a number of franchises around Melbourne and the rest of Australia, and their name and branding are a knockoff of the “BreadTalk” chain based in Singapore. Their Chinatown store is actually on Bourke Street, which isn’t the main part of Chinatown.

Breadtop

Around the corner is Maxim’s, the original and in my opinion the best Chinatown bakery. Located in Little Bourke Street near Russell Street, it’s been there for over 20 years, with some of my earliest childhood memories being of family trips to Melbourne for yum cha, followed by cakes from Maxim’s.

Maxim's Cakes: a Hong Kong import in Melbourne

My favourite cakes are the cocktail buns, and the vanilla flavoured “paper wrapped cake” – both are Hong Kong staples.

Cocktail buns from Maxim's Cakes, Melbourne

Paper wrapped sponge cakes from Maxim's Cakes, Melbourne

The Maxim’s company is also from Hong Kong, where they have a store at virtually every station on the Mass Transit Railway (photo from Wikipedia.

Maxim's Cakes, MTR Shops, at Tsim Sha Tsui (by mailer_diablo on Wikipedia)

I am unsure whether there are any links between the bakery in Melbourne and Maxim’s Hong Kong operation: they also seem to have a few more overseas stores. Back in the early 2000s I visited a Maxim’s in Sydney: it closed in 2006; and this music video video from The Go! Team suggests there is one somewhere in New York.

That logo takes me back 20 years, to the boxes of Maxim’s cakes we used to bring home from Melbourne…

Maxim's bakery logo from The Go! Team's 'Ladyflash' music video

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2 Responses to “Melbourne’s bakery battle: Maxim’s vs. Breadtop”

  1. Tim says:

    Maxim’s used to have a store in Sydney’s Chinatown, which has since closed. I remember it was the first place I saw to have the trays and tongs.

    I was actually asked by a staff member of Maxim’s in Melbourne whether I minded them changing to trays and tongs themselves, but they should have asked this before the change over (they used to give you the buns you asked for.)

    Bread & Butter on Swanston St is quite nice with the buns cooked on premises and changing weekly due to different chefs.

    I did not know Breadtop was Australian owned until I saw the article in the Age about them.

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