Thursday, March 25, 2010

Best of ... Bubble Tea

Choice can be difficult. With this in mind, we bring you the "Best of" series, a weekly evaluation of the culinary establishments that stand above the rest.

This week on "Best of"... it's gummy, chewy, and refreshing. It's Bubble Tea, a delicacy with origins in Taiwan. For those of you not in the know, you are missing out on a delicious concoction of a milky tea with a treasure trove of sunken tapioca. This is not your ordinary tapioca pudding. Rolled into orb-like gems, the tender treats form a platform engulfed in succulently sweet tea.

Right down to business, then. For the bubble tea enthusiast, there are three choices near campus that aim to satisfy your tapioca tastes. But how do they "bubble up" against each other? We've done the grunt work for you – here's our take, from best to worst:

1) Bubble Tea House, 34th and Sansom. 3.5/5. Skip the trash and head straight for the treasure. Though admittedly not the best bubble tea in the universe, it's some of the best near campus. The tapioca are usually fresh and firm, rarely grainy. Freshly shaken and made to order, the tea component is available in all sorts of varieties – from Taro to Thai. However, some consistency would be appreciated. The quality of their product can vary greatly from day to day.

2) Koreana, 36th and Chestnut. 3/5. This Korean joint churns out more than just your standard Bibim Bap. They also serve bubble tea, a perfect après-dîner to ward off the spice of the Doo Boo Kimchi. Interestingly, they blend their bubble tea with ice and milk into a not-so-traditional sucrose-heavy frothy amalgam available in comparatively limited flavours. The quality of their tapioca is what holds these budding boba buddies back the most. Glopped together in conglomerate form, their tapioca is often grainy and leaves much to be desired. Try to get that through a straw! Oh yeah, their buy-five-get-one-free card makes it easier to swallow that their tea is the most expensive of the lot.

3)Ph Café Saigon, 44th and Spruce. 2/5. This Vietnamese establishment offers a twisted take on bubble tea. The slimy slop that is their tapioca fails to impress. The tea, however, shows some promise. Available in a triumvirate of flavours – red bean, green tea, and regular milk tea – the tea is creamy yet not overbearing. Certainly acceptable in a pinch. Go for the food, not the Boba.

Tim Sakhuja and Jordan Kay.

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