Milk & Sugar Cafe

After brunch at Yolk’s, while Sunshine was driving me home, he started telling me about this bubble tea place that was good. I have heard about their unique flavours and glorious daily specials from KitKat, but I never gave them a personal visit. After discovering that I haven’t been there before, Sunshine immediately rerouted and we were headed to Milk & Sugar Cafe.

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One of their daily special offerings on this day was strawberry vanilla cheesecake slush, which I ended up getting. Can you believe that it’s only $2.50 for a small, and $3.50 for a regular? And did I mention that pearls and coconut jelly are free? What a gem.

After brunch, I was pretty full so I was afraid the strawberry vanilla cheesecake was going to be too heavy, but I got it anyway because it was on special, and well, because it’s cheesecake. I saw them add what looked like 2 big scoops of vanilla ice cream and 2 big scoops of cheesecake ice cream, frozen strawberries and a bit of ice to a blender, which made me worry even more about how heavy it was going to be. But I was pleasantly surprised with how refreshing and light tasting it was! Sunshine said so too when he tasted it. It wasn’t too thick or too sweet either! I also appreciate the fresh frozen strawberries as I’m not a fan of artificial fruit syrups.

I tried a sip of Sunshine’s milk tea as well. The tea flavour was strong and it was just lightly sweetened. It tasted more like a Hong Kong style milk tea than the usual Taiwanese milk teas you get at other bubble tea joints.

Needless to say, I will probably be back to try their other delicious offerings whenever I’m in the area! I definitely need to introduce Baby-Paca to this wonderful place.

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MILK & SUGAR CAFE
+1 604 559 5477
Renfrew-Collingwood
101-3365 Kingsway, Vancouver

Chatime

After dinner at Tropika, KitKat, Jujube and I headed over to Chatime.  It was blazing hot, and bubble tea had been on my mind the entire day. Claiming to be the #1 bubble tea brand in the world, I felt like I had to try it. I’ve passed by the downtown location quite a few times before, but every time I was either in a hurry or was too full.

When we got there, there was a line (like usual), which gave us a bit of time to decide on what we wanted as the menu was pretty extensive. I was deciding between the jasmine green tea mousse or pearl milk tea. KitKat and I ended up ordering a regular jasmine green tea mousse ($4.50 plus .50 cents for pearls) and Jujube ordered a regular pearl milk tea ($4.30). Customization options were available for sweetness and amount of ice.

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The jasmine green tea mousse is supposed to have 2 discernible layers, the mousse/milkcap layer, and the tea layer. However, I received my drink partially mixed so my jasmine green tea appears slightly milky (KitKat’s was unmixed). The proper way to drink it is without the straw with your mouth to the rim of the cup so that you can taste the flavour of the tea and the mousse/milk cap separately before it blends in your mouth to create that perfect milky tea medley. I had the straw just so I could get the pearls. The freshly brewed jasmine green tea was fragrant, light and refreshing, but I felt like the mousse/milkcap could’ve been thicker and a little more salty. There was also a coconut-y aftertaste to the mousse/milkcap that I wasn’t very crazy about. It was still good, but not amazing. I guess my tastebuds have been spoiled by Lattea’s milkcap teas in Taiwan (they were the best!)  The pearls were good, but they totally don’t compare to Half and Half’s honey boba in LA, which are always made fresh and sweetened with honey (they’re still warm when they’re served with your cold drinks!)

I also got to taste Jujube’s pearl milk tea, which is Chatime’s top pick. It was delicious, which made me regret my decision on the jasmine green tea mousse. The milk tea was aromatic and velvety smooth. It had the perfect ratio of tea to milk.

The regular size is actually a small, and the large is the typical standard size you’d get at other bubble tea places like Bubble World or Bubble Queen. I thought the prices were kind of steep compared to other places. Nevertheless, I think I’ll be returning just for their pearl milk tea, and I’m definitely going to get the large next time, because it’s just that good (not to mention it’s a better deal).

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CHATIME
+1 604 699 9119
West End
1274 Robson Street, Vancouver

Little Bubble Tea House

Due to the convenience of location and my undying love for bubble tea, my family and I drop by the Little Bubble Tea House 8/10 times that we go grocery shopping at T&T Supermarket. The place doesn’t get very busy, but it has never been completely empty the times that we’ve visited, by virtue of the T&T crowd that pop by for a quick snack or drink. Baby-Paca and I always order the milk cap red tea and the butter biscuit toast. Little Bubble Tea House has been doing a promotion for their milk cap series for awhile now (Only 2.50! +50 cents for pearls).

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Milk cap red tea (奶蓋紅茶) with pearls : Now I gotta mention that the quality of milk cap teas really fluctuate. Sometimes it’s not sweet enough, or sometimes it’s a little watered down (they add water if the the shaken tea doesn’t fill the cup). The worst we’ve had it was when the milk cap was lumpy. I don’t think anyone would appreciate globs of congealed powder in their drink, the texture is just super unappetizing. But when that happens, we simply mix the milk cap into our tea and have it as a regular milk tea, leaving the lumpy bits that won’t dissolve at the top. Most times the milk cap red tea is decent, the flavour of the tea is not too weak, the milk cap is creamy, thick, and frothy and the pearls are faintly sweet and have a bounce to them. However, they tend to give waaaaay to much pearls, I always need to remember to ask for less.

Butter biscuit toast (奶酥吐司): The slice of bread is lightly toasted, the crust provides a nice crunch. The soft bread absorbs all the buttery goodness from the butter biscuit spread without turning soggy. For those who don’t know what butter biscuit spread tastes like, just imagine a mixture of butter, milk powder and sugar that have combined to form a crumbly, decadent paste, much like the yellow topping and filling of cocktail bun (雞尾包), but without coconut shreds. For only $2.25, I recommend giving this a try. I think it’s pretty tasty.

Baby-Paca and I usually look forward to grocery shopping as it usually means that we get milk cap tea and butter biscuit toast (but also because we enjoy picking ingredients to cook dinner with too :))

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LITTLE BUBBLE TEA HOUSE
+1 604 251 7979
Hastings-Sunrise
104-2800 E 1st Avenue, Vancouver

Bubble World

Back in my high school days, Bubble World was one of the popular places to go to after shopping or watching movies at Metropolis. It was also a popular late night hangout spot. I still visit Bubble World pretty often for their Taiwanese snacks and drinks. I’ve been to the one in New West and the one in Coquitlam as well, but I find that their quality of food/drinks are not as good as the one by Metrotown. Bubble World is pretty notorious for having not the most polite waitresses, but who goes to casual Asian restaurants for service anyway?

Baby-Paca and I have been craving taro pearls for the longest time and Mamallama didn’t have time to cook, so she picked me up after work and we headed over to Bubble World for dinner. During the car ride there, I was chatting with Baby-Paca and I casually said “I’d be so sad if they didn’t have taro pearls today.” I wanted to order a matcha slush with pearls and taro pearls, but when we got there, I was informed that they only serve taro pearls on the weekends. I was devastated. I changed my order to a milk cap red tea instead, which is a new addition to their menu, but was told that milk caps were only available on weekends as well. What a bummer. I settled on a milk tea slush with pudding and pearls. Baby-Paca decided on the caramel macchiato slush with pudding and pearls.

IMG_1217Caramel macchiato slush: The slush had a thick velvety smooth texture and was topped with whipped cream and a caramel drizzle. The drink had a strong coffee taste and noticeable caramel flavour. Baby-Paca said it tasted a lot like a Starbucks frapuccino. The pearls were lightly sweetened and chewy. The pudding was yummy and had just enough of that eggy custard flavour.


Milk tea slush (not shown in picture): My milk tea slush today did not taste as good as it usually does. It was a little too milky and lacking in tea flavour. I have been consistently satisfied with Bubble World’s milk tea prior to this visit, Maybe it’s just an off day.

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Pan fried egg roll with dry meat floss (肉鬆蛋餅): This is a snack I always order at Bubble World. I’ve tried it at other Taiwanese restaurants in Vancouver, but they never seem to get it right. The egg and crepe like wrap was rolled up with a generous helping of pork floss in the middle and served with a garlic sauce.

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Fried fish cake (炸甜不辣): These salty peppery fishcakes are golden pillows of perfection. They’re airy, soft and chewy. I always ask for a little dish of the garlic sauce to dip them in.

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Salty peppery chicken nuggets (鹽酥雞): The fried coating was not too thick, and the meat was not too dry. However, I do feel like it’s missing the fragrance of fried basil, which really livens up the flavour profile. The salty peppery chicken nuggets at Bubble World are pretty decent, better than a lot of other places in Vancouver, but nothing compared to what you get in Taiwan. My tastebuds have been pretty spoiled.

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Mountain yam milky hotpot (山藥牛奶鍋): You get to choose the type of meat that goes into the hotpot. We ordered it with beef. The hotpot is served on top of a candle burner to keep it warm. It comes with a bowl of rice and two sauces for dipping, satay sauce and doubanjiang (chill bean paste). For $9.95, there were a lot of ingredients in the pot, and they do not skimp out on the meat. Under the pile of beef and leaflet of lettuce were slices of mountain yam, a variety of fish balls, taro, pumpkin, enoki mushrooms and plenty of Taiwanese cabbage to fill you up. The savoury milky broth also pairs wonderfully with the rice.

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BUBBLE WORLD
+1 604 434 5551
Central Burnaby
4300 Kingsway, Burnaby

Blossom Teas

Blossom Teas is a homely little teahouse tucked away in the corner of a residential area right next to what used to be Mountain Shadow Pub. I visit this place quite often as it is in my neighbourhood and I do love me some bubble tea. Those who live in North Burnaby know the struggles of trying to find a decent bubble tea joint in the area.

I have noticed that Blossom Teas has changed a lot despite its relatively recent opening (late 2013). They used to have dart machines, but I have not seen them around the last few times I visited. Their dessert menu also seems to have shrunk. The fridge by the cash register used to be filled with cakes, puddings, creme brûlées and other house made goodies but they are no longer available and the fridge is now just used for storage. As of now, the only dessert options available are shaved snow and condensed milk toast. Blossom Teas has limited seating so it may not be the best place to hangout if you’re with a large group of friends. However, it’s a good spot to study (free wifi!) alone or with a few friends. The noise level is minimal and the place is usually not too packed with people, customers typically just grab their drinks to go. Most of the staff are friendly and quick with service.

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(Sorry, Baby-Paca and I already took a few sips from the milk tea royale (no ice) and matcha matcha shake (most of the ice cream already melted into the slush)).

My usual go-to drink at Blossom is the milk tea royale or matcha matcha shake. The milk tea royale is made from freshly brewed black tea, organic palm sugar and milk (instead of powder). Unlike the usual milk tea that uses regular granulated sugar/sugar syrup, the palm sugar is salient without being too sweet and has a distinct earthy taste. The tea to milk ratio is also balanced. The matcha matcha shake comes with a stick of green tea pocky and a small scoop of their house made matcha ice cream. The ice cream is creamy and the matcha flavour is apparent. I love that pleasant slightly bitter aftertaste you get from high quality matcha powder, which was evident in the perfectly blended slush. The pearls were slightly sweetened and pleasingly chewy even after steeping in our drinks for quite a bit of time (unlike the pearls in other bubble tea shops which bloat and lose their bounce (QQ texture/chewiness). On a side note, the first time I gave Blossom a visit, I was excited to see that mochi was an option that you can add to your drink, but I was immediately disappointed when my order arrived as it was the type of mochi that you get from frozen yogurt chains (the cheap, soft, starchy kind) and I ended up picking most of them out.

On Mondays-Fridays from 1-6pm, they have a happy hour deal where they offer a choice of Jajang noodles, Sichuan burning noodles or Sichuan chill wontons for $4.99 (regular $6.99) Baby-Paca and I decided on an order of the Sichuan burning noodles and an order of the wontons. These dishes are only available in a disposable plastic container.
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 Sichuan chili wontons: There are 12 whole wontons in an order. The sauce tasted like a mixture of chilli oil, soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar (most prominent), but the dish was hardly spicy. The wontons were pretty standard (all pork, no shrimp, topped with green onions and cilantro) Not great, not terrible.

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Sichuan burning noodles: The order came with a generous portion of noodles, which were thin and had a nice chewy consistency. The noodles were topped with ground pork, pickled vegetables, green onions and cilantro. The flavour is ambiguous, the sauce tastes like a peppery blend of dry spices. It definitely does not stay true to its name as it is only benignly spicy and does not have that distinct sichuan taste. The pork was on the dry side and all the toppings just seemed like they were thrown together into a bowl. Perhaps it would have tasted better as a noodle soup, I felt like it was missing something that binded all the components together. I did not care for the noodles, but Baby-Paca liked it (although she wished that it was spicier).

Overall, I think I’ll just stick to their drinks.

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BLOSSOM TEAS
+1 604 294 4100
North Burnaby
23-7198 Barnet Road, Burnaby