Boba Boy (Kerrisdale)

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary as part of a media event, but all opinions are my own.

Boba Boy opened up their Kerrisdale location earlier this year and also recently opened one in Burnaby. The boba shop started back in Ontario and has expanded to Vancouver. They are known for their freshly made tapioca balls.

 

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The Kerrisdale location has a few two seaters up front with more seating in the back for larger groups. The space is modern and clean and lit with natural light.

 

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Who can resist the cute logo of the Boba Boy! Guess where the funny hair style comes from? Of course, it is inspired by the tapioca balls!

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The shop has a variety of drinks from smoothies, teas, milk teas, and fruit teas. As for their freshly made tapioca balls, you can choose from original, taro, matcha or sesame. The original balls are clear instead of black.

 

 

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Taro Smoothie with Matcha Pearls

The first drink I tried was the Taro Smoothie with Matcha Pearls. The smoothie was creamy but I’m pretty sure the taro was powder as the colour was too purple. As for the tapioca pearls, they are quite different from the ones from other chains because they are handmade. The pearls are more chewy and can get a bit tough if they sit in the cold drink for too long. They also stick together more but I actually don’t mind them knowing that they are hand made. They probably don’t have as many additives or preservatives so it’s much healthier. The matcha flavour is also quite strong and has a bit of a bitter taste but I like that strong tea taste.

 

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Strawberry Milk with Pearls

T got the Strawberry Milk with original pearls. How pretty is this! I didn’t get a chance to try this one though.

 

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They also offer two containers – one is a plastic one-time use cup and the second is a reusable bottle. You are required to pay an extra $2 for the bottle, but if you bring it back, you get a discount on your bubble tea. Not sure how often you’ll remember to bring the bottle though as I usually get bubble tea spontaneously, so not sure if the bottle is that worth it. But this is great if you need to carry your bubble tea around.

Overall, the drinks itself are nothing too special compared to other bubble tea chains. However, their tapioca balls which are hand made is what sets them apart. I think the chewiness is a personal preference since some people may find them on the harder side. But, overall, still a very unique feature and great that they are healthier than the usual pre-packaged tapioca.

Pros:
– Handmade flavoured tapioca balls are a unique feature

Cons:
– Some people may find the tapioca balls to be chewier than usual

Price Range: $5-10 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Paid street parking Overall: 3.5

 

Boba Boy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Salt & Straw

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A trip to Salt & Straw is a must when visiting Portland. Now that they opened a location in Seattle, I guess that makes it more convenient for us to visit as well. After lunch at The Waiting Room, we walked by Salt & Straw and of course a line up had formed.

 

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The line moved a bit slow this time so we probably waited 30 minutes before we got our ice cream. The nice thing is that you can try as many flavours as you want once it’s your turn.

 

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The waffle cones are freshly made and smells delicious throughout the store. They have classic flavours but also seasonal flavours that switch up every month.

 

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Honey Lavender and Smoked Sea Salt with Chocolate Covered Feuilletine

The last time I visited, I had the Honey Lavender and I loved it. So of course, I had to get it one more time. Both the honey and lavender are sourced in Portland. If you enjoy floral flavours, then this is perfect for you. As for the Smoked Sea Salt with Chocolate Covered Feuilletine, this was part of their limited edition flavours. The ice cream features a cherry-wood smoked sea salt-base with chocolate-covered feuilletine folded into it. The feuillentine are light and crispy! Love the sweet and salty pairing of this ice cream.

Overall, Salt & Straw did not disappoint once again! Worth the wait and a must when visiting Portland!

Pros:
– Great flavours and well executed

Cons:
– Be prepared to wait in line!

Price Range: USD$5-7 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Free street parking on weekends Overall: 4

 

Salt & Straw Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ruby Jewel Scoops

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Ruby Jewel Scoops was nearby our hotel, so after doing some shopping, I suggested we grab a snack. The shop features handmade ice cream and are also famous for making ice cream sandwiches with their cookies! There was a bit of a line up in the afternoon, especially because they only had two people scooping. You can choose to have your ice cream in a cup or add an extra dollar for a waffle cone.

 

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Caramel with Salted Chocolate

We decided to get a single scoop of Caramel with Salted Chocolate to share. The ice cream was creamy and it was not too sweet because the salted chocolate balanced it out. The waffle cone itself was okay but I prefer the ones at Rain or Shine. Decent size for the price and nice that it’s conveniently located where all the shopping is.

Pros:
– Great variety of flavours to choose from – many of which use local ingredients

Cons:
– Waffle cone is just average

Price Range: USD$3-8 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3.5 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Paid street parking Overall: 3.5

 

Ruby Jewel Scoops Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Blue Star Donuts

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Not my first time at Blue Star Donuts, but because it was so close to our hotel, I suggested coming by for a quick snack. Blue Star is known for their high quality ingredients and unique flavours. They have some of their most classic and popular donuts on display everyday, but usually will have some rotating flavours as well. The donuts are not cheap, and I think they might’ve increased prices since the last time I visited as well. Donuts are around USD$3-4 so definitely a premium.

 

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24k Rose-Rosé

I noticed they had some new flavours including the 24K Rose-Rosé which features a French dark chocolate buttermilk with a rose water and sparking rosé glaze. I loved how the colour was sparkly and the glaze itself was strong in rose flavour. This was actually our favourite because the chocolate donut itself wasn’t overly sweet. The donut itself is super crunchy on the outside but moist inside.

 

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Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk

The second donut we got was the Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk which featured a glaze made of fresh raspberries and fresh rosemary. This one was slightly sweeter and had a bit of tartness to it but featured the same buttermilk cake batter.

Both donuts were very filling and is great for sharing. It was interesting that both the donuts we chose also had this cool square shape inside the circle. Quite different compared to the typical ring donuts they usually have. Worth giving a try but definitively a bit of a splurge.

Pros:
– High quality ingredients
– Interesting flavours

Cons:
– Not cheap!

Price Range: $4-5 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Paid street parking Overall: 4

 

Blue Star Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Smart n Save Cafe

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Smart N Save Cafe has been around for quite a few years now, but I didn’t learn about this until recently because the cafe is situated in such a random location in Richmond. It’s on River Road on the second floor of a office complex and does not have too much signage you would notice while driving. The cafe is actually connected to the Smart N Save grocery store in Lansdowne Mall. If you’re craving Hong Kong style cafe food and snacks, then this is the spot for you.

 

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Imitation Shark’s Fin Soup

I love Imitation Shark’s Fin Soup and I always get this at the night market, so it was no surprise that I had to try it here. The consistency was thick and gooey with a good amount of chicken and vegetables. Pretty good and red vinegar was provided to add a splash of acidity.

 

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Fresh Beef & Eggs Sandwich

I heard that the Fresh Beef & Eggs Sandwich were a huge hit here, and it definitely did not disappoint. Such a simple dish, but the beef was extremely tender and the eggs were fluffy. I liked how they also toasted the white bread a bit. And yes, white bread definitely brings back childhood memories. And no crusts please!

 

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Deep Fried Prawn Paste Toast

Another dish they are famous for is the Deep Fried Prawn Paste Toast. This is such a classic HK style dish which we can’t usually find here. The prawn paste was bouncy and the toast itself was covered with panko bread crumbs and deep fried to golden brown. The mayo paired the dish very well.

 

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Mixed Sauce Plain Rice Roll with Spicy Curry Fish Ball

Another street food favourite is the Mixed Sauce Plain Rice Roll with Spicy Curry Fish Ball. The rice roll was surprisingly thin and smooth and the sweet sauce was delicious paired with the plain rice rolls. To add, the curry fish balls were a delicious complement. Loved the spicy sauce! Highly recommend getting this.

 

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Fish Paste Siu Mai

Last but not least, we had the Fish Paste Siu Mai which comes with 12 pieces and a side of soy sauce. I actually prefer eating the fish paste style siu mai rather than the ones you get at dim sum. Yes, these are the cheaper version, but they are so bouncy!

 

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Overall, I highly recommend checking this hidden gem if you’re craving HK style snacks. You won’t find much service here but it’s pretty cool since they have a QR system in place. Once you sit down, they give you a QR code for your table. Just scan it, and you’ll be taken to their website where you can order your dishes. When you click on a dish, it automatically transfers to the kitchen and you’ll hear a little ring. Then they will bring you your food when it’s ready. Water and utensils are self serve. The interior is actually better than I expected being bright and clean.

Pros:
– Great spot if you’re craving HK snacks
– Items are way cheaper and better than the night market

Cons:
– Don’t expect much service, but QR code system works

Price Range: $10 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 2 Ambiance: 3 Parking: Free parking in the complex Overall: 3.5

 

Smart n Save Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

T-Go Tea

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Note: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Last month, I visited T-Go Tea which opened up in Central at Garden City a while ago. It’s located under the Walmart and a great addition to this complex.

 

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Right now, the shop mainly has beverages only, but they are working on a small food menu, including teaming up with a pastry chef.

 

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There is a large list of drinks and they are known for their Teapresso beverages, which uses a special equipment to extract the flavours of tea. They also have the sea salt foam drinks which are super popular now.

 

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They focus on quality of ingredients here. For instance, their teas are purchased from Taiwan and are premium and made in smaller batches. They do not add syrups in their beverages, but rather the teas are infused with natural fruits or flavours when they are manufactured. The pearls also have a shorter life span compared to the ones other bubble tea shops use, to decrease the amount of preservatives.

 

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We got to smell some of their teas and they were absolutely fragrant!

 

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Rose Oolong Latte

The first drink we tried was the Rose Oolong Latte. This is made with fresh milk and has a hint of floral. Pearls had a nice chew and weren’t too sweet.

 

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Honey Aloe Green Tea

If you’re looking for some non-dairy beverages, then one of my favourites is the Honey Aloe Green Tea with coconut jelly. This was naturally sweetened with the honey and very refreshing.

 

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Diamond Purple Rice Black Tea

The next drink, the Diamond Purple Rice Black Tea, was very interesting with a cube of milk which is supposed to represent the diamond. As the cube melts, the milk disperses out into the drink. Really cool concept!

 

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Sweet Peaches Smoothie

Other than tea based drinks, they also feature smoothies, perfect for the kids, or if you’re craving something a little thicker. The Sweet Peaches Smoothie was one of my favourite as it was sort of like a peach icy. It was refreshing and great with the pearls. I’m not sure if the drinks are usually presented with all the fruits on top though. They even have an avocado smoothie drink and a kale smoothie! Perfect for those coming out from the yoga class in this complex.

 

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Oreo Cookie Blizzard Smoothie

Last but not least, we tried the Oreo Cookie Blizzard Smoothie which surprisingly wasn’t too sweet. This would be perfect for the kids but definitely probably not the most healthy option available.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the beverage options available and how they have differentiated themselves by focusing on healthier alternatives and premium teas. Good to see another addition in Richmond!

 

ZenQ (Marine Drive)

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Note: All food and beverages were complimentary as part of a ChineseBites event, but all opinions are my own.

Across the complex at Marine Drive Gateway, right next to Coco Fresh Tea, is now ZenQ, a drink and dessert store which is also Chatime’s sister restaurant. This chain’s first location was in Coquitlam, and has now expanded to Vancouver, Richmond, and Burnaby.

 

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The location has a decent amount of seating, but you can of course get your drinks to go as well.

 

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You order up front first, and if you choose to eat in, the server will bring your food to you. They have a large variety of beverages and plenty of toppings to choose from. For desserts, they have both cold and hot desserts, including shaved ice, grass jelly, tofu pudding, and even waffles. ZenQ is known for their mochi balls in their desserts whcih are made from taro or sweet potato.

 

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Hand Made Taro Milk Tea, Winter Melon Tea with Small Pearls, ZenQ Milk Tea with Small Pearls

To start, we had a variety of beverages. Since I was sick, I had to get all hot drinks. Well, it turned out to be perfect because the Hand Made Taro Milk Tea was our favourite of the three we tried. The drink features fresh milk with taro which I think is real because you get this gritty texture. This drink is only served warm and is perfect in this cold weather! As for the ZenQ Milk Tea and Winter Melon Tea, we personally enjoyed the ones at Chatime and Presotea more. However, I really enjoyed the tiny pearls available at ZenQ and the drinks were not bad after all. If I lived in the area, I definitely wouldn’t mind coming here for the drinks. The drinks are also fully customizable for sugar and ice level, just like Chatime.

 

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Tofu Pudding with Green Beans, Peanuts, Pearls, and Q Balls

The highlights at ZenQ for us were the desserts. K tried the Tofu Pudding and you can choose from a variety of toppings. Here, she has green beans, peanuts, pearls, and Q balls. Their Q balls are essentially mochi balls and are made from taro, sweet potato, and matcha. My favourite was the sweet potato Q ball as I found that the taro Q ball was slightly on the harder side, especially when served with a cold dessert. The tofu pudding is refreshing and not overly sweet. You also get plenty of each topping so every spoonful is filled with texture.

 

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Hot Grass Jelly with Q Balls, Large and Small Pearls

As I was sick, I got the Hot Grass Jelly and had it with Q balls, and large and small pearls. I liked how the grass jelly wasn’t too sweet and every bite was chewy because of the toppings. Here, the taro Q ball is softer possibly because the dessert is served hot.

 

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Grass Jelly with Taro, Grass Jelly Ice, Q balls, and Large Pearls

Lastly, E had the Grass Jelly cold and got it with a few chunks of taro, grass jelly ice, Q balls, and large pearls. This again is not too sweet, but you can get it with cream which you pour on top. It tastes a bit more like condensed milk when you add it.  Refreshing and perfect in the summer months!

Overall, ZenQ has a large range of Taiwanese desserts and is a great addition to the Marine Gateway area. It’s perfect if you not only want a bubble tea, but also a dessert! Prices are also quite reasonable as these mochi desserts can get quite pricey.

 

ZenQ  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice (Marine Drive)

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Disclosure: All beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

CoCo’s latest location at Marine Drive has been open for some time now, and they will have their official grand opening this weekend. The location is short walk across the street from the Marine Gateway and Canada Line skytrain station.

 

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The location is brightly lit just like their other stores and has a decent amount of seating to enjoy your drinks. At Coco, you can customize your drink’s sugar and ice level.  Most drinks go for around $5 for a large. Regular is around $4.20.

 

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Of course they have the famous CoCo mascot here!

 

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Roast Pearl Milk Tea, Matcha Macchiato with Red Bean, Sago Taro Milk Tea with Pearls

I have tried a few of their famous drinks like 3 Guys and Bubble Gaga so I decided to try some drinks I haven’t tried before. The first was the Roasted Pearl Milk Tea which seems to be a new menu item. We had this at 50% sugar level but I think I would’ve preferred it at 70% sugar level as it was too strong in the roasted flavour. I think I still like Chatime’s roasted milk tea the most. In the middle is the Matcha Macchiato with Red Bean which I really enjoyed. Strong in matcha flavour and paired nicely with the red bean, it tasted like matcha red bean cake. Lastly, the Sago Taro Milk Tea with Pearls was my favourite. Although there are no taro chunks in this drink, I still enjoyed the tiny sago paired with the pearls. It’s like having Chinese dessert!

 

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To celebrate the Marine Drive’s grand opening, the Marine Drive location is having a buy one get one free promotion. From October 27 – 29, 2017, if you purchase any Top 10 Drink, you will receive a free medium Pearl Milk Tea. This is only valid at 491 SW Marine Drive.

The Top 10 Drinks include:

  • Red Bean Matcha Milk Tea
  • Lemon Yakult
  • Mango Smoothie
  • 3 Guys
  • Bubble Tea
  • Lemon King
  • Bubble Gaga
  • Black Tea Macchiato
  • Black Tea Latte
  • Sago Taro Milk Tea

CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato