Cheap and Cheerful - Bubble Tea Cafe

These days, they are everywhere! Big or tiny; fancy or enclosed; bubble tea cafés are so popular they might well be one of the top competitors to other beverage joints.

As daunting as Starbucks in N. America, bubble Tea café is the place to hang out for the young generations, especially high school kids that are still underaged to go boozing in public. Perhaps this explains why the Drink Menu outlists the food menu most of the time. To these youngsters who somehow roam freely even at mig-night, these fancy drinks are make-shift cocktails without the alcoho. Look at the names: ‘Blue Baby’,‘Passionate Love’ or ‘Young Girl’s Dream’, obviously, the fantasy and pleasure is far beyond what’s in the drink!

And yet, to call these cafés ‘bubble tea café’ is somewhat misleading, since they offer a genre of Taiwanese snacks as well. In fact, more and more bubble tea cafés categorize themselves as Taiwanese bistros and have successfully expanded their client base to include families and boomers.

Taiwanese cuisine; influenced by Japanese culture and aboriginals; is also an adaptation ofFujianand Hakka cooking. The Japanese gives them an artistic approach found in room décor, the wares, the plating and the sculptured icy drinks. Set meals, come with soup, side dishes rice are often served Bento-style. Taiwan-aboriginals’ rural form of food preparation and the usage of roots, herbs and wild vegetables; along with authentic Fujian and Hakka recipes, turn out intense flavoured soup, noodles, meat and seafood, along with other one-of-a-kind dishes and comfortating table-top hot-pots.

Don’t worry about exotic dishes, though they will be some, but 90% of the menu items are Joe and Jane proof.  Dishes like Minced pork on rice, Wok-fried live clams, Taiwanese chicken nugget, assortment of noodle soups, original beef noodle soup loaded with deliciously braised shanks, grilled pork chops, pan-fried vegetables and fried rice...the list goes on and on. There has to be a dish or two that appeals to even the fussiest diner.

And the best reason to dine in a bubble tea bistro? Extremely wallet-friendly!  How friendly?  What about $10 – 12 for a eat-till-you-drop  shared multi-course dinner?