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.
Address: 6680 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby, BC V5E 4N3
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
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.
Address: [Metropolis at Metrotown], Ground Level, 236-4820 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 4P1
After an afternoon of shopping in Metrotown mall, it only made sense to have dinner at Sekai Udon Bar! I believe they took over an All-You-Can-Eat Japanese restaurant a few years ago, but they still retained some of the similar traditional Japanese restaurant decor. Seating is abundant and spacious.
One of the waitresses was very helpful and efficient. She escorted us to a new table when our original table was wobbly. Then came an awkward situation when we were about to order food. Our waitress was jotting down our order, and suddenly the supposed manager came over, and order the waitress to greet new guests instead. In the end, we had a different waiter taking our order. Awkwardness aside, let’s focus on the food!
Japoutine – $6.75
Japoutine = tempura-battered potatoes (or sweet potatoes) + poutine-ish ingredients (cheese and gravy) + seaweed sprinkles.
The texture of the fries was interesting. We thought they would be light with tempura batter, but they were quite dense and filling. Instead of cheese curds, they opted for melted cheese (I think it was mozzarella). Not a bad twist on poutine, but we still prefer the French-Canadian original 😛
Niku Udon – $8.25 (regular size)
This was a very traditional bowl of udon with dashi broth, sukiyaki beef, and assorted veggies and mushrooms. Very hearty to eat on a cold day. Soup wasn’t too salty, and the beef was tender (+ generous portions!).
Address: 5595 Kingsway, Burnaby, Burnaby, BC V5E 3B9
This was the first time we dined at Wei Dao Cafe. From what we’ve gathered, they used to serve individually portioned, Hong Kong style dishes. As we sat down, we realized they had completely revamped their menu. They now serve family-style, traditional-Chinese cuisine.
When our server came to take our order, he tried to up-sell one of the most expensive fish specials (priced at $40). We only had two people, so… ignore that noise! We had already set our minds on three reasonably priced dishes:
Marinate Pork Intestines – $8.95
Offal isn’t for everyone, but if you can get over that psychological factor, you can discover many more tasty ingredients. 🙂 I’d say the intestines we had were cooked just long enough. The sweet soy sauce flavour was there throughout. Texture was good; nothing was too chewy.
Typhoo[n] Shelter Style Seafood Fried Rice – $13.95
I am a biased fried rice fan, so it is highly unlikely that I would hate this dish 😛 They were quite generous with the ingredients and portions, as there were lots of shrimps, scallops, and chopped cuttlefish. According to the menu, this fried rice was supposed to be spicy. They added chili flakes, but we could hardly taste them. As yummy as it was, the fried rice wasn’t very unique. Does “Typhoon Shelter” relate to the use of seafood? Continue reading
Address: 3312 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5R 5K7
The Molangs were driving down Kingsway, en route to Metrotown. Due to traffic congestion, we decided to pull over by Happy Day Cafe for lunch. On the day of visit, it looked like the restaurant had recently finished renovation. The interior was spacious, bright, and clean. They had TVs on the wall showing Cantonese shows, but I doubt anyone could hear them with all the background noise.
Happy Day Cafe is a Hong Kong style restaurant. What that means is that they serve almost anything that could satisfy your food cravings. On the menu you will see: Chinese soup noodles, Chinese breakfast, “Western” style breakfast, sandwiches, Chinese rice dishes, curry, and pasta, etc. Everything is inexpensive, as standard size dishes would cost around $10 each. A free drink (hot milk tea or coffee) is also included with an order of most main dishes.
Here’s what we had for lunch:
Baked Pork Chop & Seafood on Rice – $10.50
We were surprised that it came just 10 minutes after ordering. Normally it would take twice the amount of time. Perhaps they make a batch of these everyday… Anyway, the rice bowl was pretty hot when it arrived, so we were happy.
Half of the bowl was seafood + cream sauce, and the other half was fried pork chop + tomato sauce. Both halves were equally hearty and delicious. We could be wrong, but we felt that the portion size here was smaller than other HK restaurants. Nonetheless, this one was still good comfort food. Continue reading
Address: 4741 Willingdon Avenue, Burnaby, BC V5G 3H5
Hours: 11 AM to midnight
It was very smart of the owner to open a student-friendly restaurant nearby a high school and a college. 😛
From its name, one would expect this restaurant to be (primarily) a beef noodle house, but it turned out to be a Taiwanese bubble tea restaurant. In other words, they offer a wide range of entree combos (i.e. choice of protein + rice + side veggies). On paper, the combos are decently priced at $10.25 to $14. Funnily we didn’t order any beef noodles because we found other dishes to be more appetizing (they even advertised them more).
Green onion lamb combo ($11.50)
Our first thought of this was: “it’s a bit small…” Not only was the overall portion size small, the meat to onion/green onion ratio was around 1:4. On the bright(er) side, the lamb was tasty and tender. The sauce was nice and peppery.
As for the side dishes:
- Mustard green – Pretty standard affair. It’s always nice to have some green vegetables.
- Radish/carrot/tofu skin mix – These appeared to have been stewed together. We enjoyed it because enough flavour penetrated into the daikon radish.