[Continuously Updated] Greater Vancouver Bubble Tea Guide

We have been drinking a lot of bubble tea; to the point where we decided to compile an unofficial ranking of bubble tea shops in the Greater Vancouver Area. Below is a brief summary of our methodology:

  • We only compare milk tea w/ pearls (or the closest equivalent)
    • There’s a bit of leeway on the type of tea used; some stores prefer black tea, oolong tea, or green tea, etc.
    • Default sugar and ice level
    • Default dairy component
    • Default pearls
  • Scores are determined by a weighted average of these three main categories:
    • Tea: Good tea in bubble teas is like a good broth in soups. This is the foundation, so it holds most weight in the final score.
    • Creaminess: We are talking about milk teas here, so it needs some kind of dairy component. It doesn’t matter if milk, cream, or powder is used; as long as the perfect ratio is there. Too much would overpower the drink, and too little would make the drink taste watered-down.
    • Pearls: Self-explanatory. The pearls must have the best combination of texture and flavour. This category holds slightly more weight than “creaminess”.
    • (Bonus) “Value” Factor: Each shop may get a bonus/penalty up to +3/-3%. Bonus is applied if the vendor is cheaper than average, offers consistent promo, and/or serves larger volume than average. Conversely, the more “overpriced” a place is, the more penalty it would receive.

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[Review] Originals Cafe Mexicano

Originals Cafe Mexicano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Address: 2231 Clarke Street, Port Moody, Metro Vancouver V3H 1Y6

It was a bright and sunny Saturday, and we were just exploring the great outdoors of Port Moody. Since our stomachs started to growl at 4:00 PM, we decided to drop by Originals Cafe Mexicano for early supper.

This place seemed to be a neighbourhood favourite. It was already quite packed at 4:00PM. From the outside, the Cafe looked like someone’s little house. The vibe was casual and authentic.

Let’s jump right into the food…

Guacamole and Chips – $10.75*

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*Pico de Gallo was a side add-on for $2

To be perfectly honest, we were let down by the small portion size (for the price). Nonetheless, the guacamole (and pico de gallo) was absolutely delicious. It was fresh, limey, has a little bit of heat, and addictingly salty (in the best possible way). All of this was accompanied by the perfectly crisp chips.

Taco Trio – $14

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Left: Pastor. Pineapple + marinated shaved up pork. Sweet tasting; very tropical flavours.

Middle: Steak (my personal favourite). It was roast beef + fresh spices and herbs.

Right: Baja Style Fish. Breaded white cod + avocado + pico de gallo. Drizzled on top is some kind of spicy mayo. This was the most filling of the three tacos we chose.

Molang Scores & Verdict

Food: 4.5/5

Value: 3/5

Service: 3.5/5

Ambiance: 4/5

Total: 15/20

Some of the best Mexican food we’ve tasted. 🙂

[Review] Palate Kitchen

Address: 848 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6C 1C8

Website

We are back eating out again (with proper social distancing, of course)! Today, we had the chance to try brunch at the Palate Kitchen in downtown Vancouver.

Starting off with a nice caffeinated beverage:

Cortado – $3.75

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We ordered the cortado because we don’t see it very often. Apparently it consists of equal amounts of milk and espresso. The texture wasn’t as velvety or thick as flat white or latte, but it was smoother to drink. Anyway, it was a good wake-up drink.

24 Hour Lamb – $18

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This was on the all-day lunch menu. The best way we could describe it would be an overfilled open-face sandwich. Everything was stacked on top of two sourdough breads (drenched in flavour). Beneath the generous amounts of greens were slow-cooked lamb, baba ghanoush, fried egg, cheese, and sauce. Aside from the fact that it was a bit difficult to eat, this dish was tasty (not overly heavy) and filling.

Kefta Tagine – $18

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Moroccan meatballs + poached eggs in tomato sauce. The eggs were cooked perfectly (oozing yolks). While the meatballs had nice flavours (full of herbs and spices), we thought it was a tad dry. Not pictured were two pieces of Moroccan bread. Those were perfect for soaking up the tomato sauce.

Molang Scores & Verdict

Food: 4/5

Value: 3.5/5

Service: 4/5

Ambiance: 4.5/5

Total: 16/20

Well-run, contemporary restaurant!

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[Restaurant Review] Lollipot

Address: 9020 Capstan Way, Richmond, BC V6X 1R4

Lollipot occupies the space that used to be TTOB (a bubble tea shop). Don’t worry, the drinks are still there! The two simply combined forces. You can now enjoy your BBT along with a boiling hot pot.

Upon first glance of the menu, we expected the dining experience to be similar to a popular hot pot chain – Boiling Point.

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Essentially, you choose from a variety of mini (individualized) hot pots. You may also choose your spice level, as well as a side (rice or vermicelli). Lunch comes with discounted pricing and a free drink!

Let’s jump right in to the food~

Thai Green Curry – $15.95

LP1

Our first impression of the soup was that, even at “mild” spice level, it packed quite a bit of heat. It also wasn’t as creamy as we would expect from a Thai green curry dish; perhaps there wasn’t enough coconut milk (to our preference at least). Our main critique would be that the soup lacked a flavorful “punch”. It wasn’t a bad soup by any means, but it just wasn’t as addictive as most other hot pots we’ve tried.

Otherwise, this was still a wholesome hot pot. There was a good variety of hot pot ingredients: fish balls, tofu, mushroom, pork slices, seafood, and veggies, etc. Those came in large chunks too.

Cumin Lamb – $15.95

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As expected, this had a very heavy soup; however, it wasn’t as spicy as the Thai green curry. Again, while it had a strong cumin flavour, we felt like it lacked an extra layer of flavour. No complaints about the other ingredients, quantity or quality-wise. 🙂

Molang Scores & Verdict

Food: 3.5/5

Value: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Ambiance: 4/5

Total: 15.5/20

Food is good for this price point. Service is also good and friendly. Compared to popular hot pot joints, Lollipot’s soups are a bit weak.

[Review] Hi Genki Restaurant

Hi Genki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Address: 6680 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby, BC V5E 4N3

Website

Is a place still a “hidden gem” if everyone on social media knows about it?

Hi Genki started off as a hidden gem; presumably because it is located in a senior center. When we visited last night at around 7:30 PM (30 minutes before last call), there was still lots of millennial patrons waiting.

Some say the ambiance of Hi Genki reminds you of a college cafeteria. I say it has the vibe of a ferry boat cafeteria too.

The food served here I would describe as Japanese comfort food. On the menu you would see items like donburi, oden, curry, tempera, and udon.

Genki Udon – $10.95

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This would be your “everything” udon for the indecisive people. It’s got a variety of ingredients for you to try: fish cake, prawn tempura, tofu, grilled chicken, and egg. What stood out for us was the broth. It had a hint of ponzu, and it made the veggies (spinach in particular) excitingly flavourful. Everything tasted as good as you would expect. Portion size is decent; it would fill you up but not stuff you.

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[Short Review] One Cake Boutique

One Cake Boutique Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Address: 8368 Capstan Way #1313, Richmond, Richmond 

When you step inside One Cake Boutique, you would feel like you’ve just entered a fairy tale princess’s castle. It’s brightly lit inside, the tabletops have marble-like finish, chairs have are nicely cushioned and have gold trims, and everything else are meticulously matched in pastel colours. You could probably guess by now that the cakes aren’t cheap.

Chestnut cake & rose lychee cake – $8.50 each

OneCakeBoutique

Let’s begin with the chestnut cake. Like most Asian cakes, the texture was soft and light. The cream tasted as smooth as it looked. What got us was the chestnut paste. It was surprisingly dense and a tad too sweet. This cake really called for a cup of tea or coffee.

The rose lychee cake was definitely our favourite of the two cakes, and we can see why it is their best seller. It had real lychee pieces, and it had just the right level of sweetness with the lychee cream. The aromatic rose elevated the cake to another level.

Molang Scores & Verdict

Food: 4/5

Value: 3.5/5

Service: N/A

Ambiance: 5/5

Total: 12.5/15

Get the rose lychee cake!

 

 

[Review] Tonton Sushi

Sushi TonTon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Address: 4018 Cambie St, Mount Pleasant, Vancouver, Vancouver 

Tonton Sushi occupies the space that used to be Sushi Aria. We suspect it’s the same restaurant rebranded because we noticed the decor looked mostly unchanged, and the owners are still Korean.

Compared to Sushi Aria, Tonton Sushi is slightly more upscale; as evident in the pricing and presentation.

Salmon & Tuna Sashimi – $12

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Fresh tasting sashimi. Fish slices were generously thick. We liked the salmon more than the tuna because it tasted fattier 😛

Tontoro – $9

This was BBQ pork neck with a special soy sauce. Meat was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The flavours go well with the jalapeno garnish. Portion size was decent too for this appetizer.

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[Review] La Meza Grill

La Meza Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Address: 11955 88 Avenue, Delta, BC 4C

Website

La Meza Grill is nested inside the 88th Season’s Mart. Once we stepped in, the smell and sound of sizzling meat really opened our appetite. The restaurant wasn’t too big, but it was clean and modern looking.

We ordered two savory breakfast items off their extensive menu.

Longsilog and Tapsilog – $8.95 each

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The two dishes were nearly identical except for the choice of protein. Longsilog came with pork sausages that tasted very similar to Taiwanese sausage in which they had quite a bit of sweetness to them. Tapsilog, on the other hand, had garlic cured beef that reminded us of Malaysian style satays. The beef was crisply caramelized on the outside and tender on the inside.

On the sides were refreshing tomato salad that paired well with the grilled meats, and garlic rice that was extremely satisfying to eat with the runny yolk of the sunny-side-up eggs.

Molang Scores & Verdict

Food: 4.5/5

Value: 4.5/5

Service: 4/5

Ambiance: 4/5

Total: 17/20

Delicious and affordable breakfast!

[Review] Sushi Wow

Sushi Wow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Address: 8273 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC V6P 4Z6

To put it mildly, Sushi Wow (yes, that is the name of the restaurant) is a hole in a wall. The place is tiny, and dimly lit. You would most likely be dining on one of the bar seats. Takeout is certainly a popular option here. How did the food taste?

Black Orange roll & Saba Finale roll – $9.50 & $8.95 respectively

 

Of the two rolls we ordered, the Black Orange roll was the heavy hitter. The “black” stemmed from the unagi on top of the roll, and the “orange” was referring to the spicy crab meat and spicy mayo. Again, this roll packed quite a punch in terms of flavour; sweet, salty, and spicy at the same time. Rice was well cooked (neither hard or mushy), and roll “construction” was tight).

The Saba Finale roll was a clear contrast to the first roll, as it was the “healthier” option. It was made out of brown rice, scallions, avocado, and saba (mackerel). To our surprise, we hardly noticed the brown rice. It wasn’t tough to chew like we first imagined.

Molang Scores & Verdict

Food: 4/5

Value: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Ambiance: 2.5/5

Total: 14.5/20

Many rolls to choose from!

[Quick Review] Whiskey Six BBQ

Whiskey Six BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Address: 826 Renfrew Street, Vancouver, BC V5K 4B6

The Molangs stumbled upon Whiskey Six BBQ in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. Right off the bat, we could tell it was a very pleasant place to have a meal/snack. The room was distinct, clean, and well-lit.

In order to avoid over-stuffing ourselves, we decided to share one medium sized platter.

Organic Beef Brisket – $24

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I believe this was a dry-rub style brisket. Texture-wise, it was very soft, and it melted in our mouths. Flavour-wise, it wasn’t very heavy due to the lack of sauce. We weren’t too sure what to do with the bread because there was no butter or sauce to smear with. Should we make a de facto sandwich? 😀

For the sides, we chose coleslaw and beets. The former tasted very healthy, as it was not drenched in dressing. Personally, we preferred cabbage over radicchio, but this one seemed fancier 🙂

Beets were warm, and they had been infused with an herb that I couldn’t not quite identify; nevertheless, it was very aromatic.

Molang Scores & Verdict

Food: 4/5

Value: 3.5/5

Service: 4.5/5

Ambiance: 4.5/5

Total: 16.5/20

High quality food, but don’t expect “Southern hospitality” portions.