Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Category: bubble tea Page 2 of 6

Vietnamese Tea House

Today I was at yet another restaurant competing in the Vancouver Foodster iced tea challenge. This is a newer Vietnamese restaurant on Hastings Street, on a strip already saturated with numerous restaurants offering Vietnamese food. So what sets them apart? An owner hailing from Southern Vietnam, bringing with her authentic Southern Vietnamese cuisine, and slight differences we would learn through eating.

Previous to them moving in this was a sushi restaurant. The change of management brought about a renovation that included pink walls and purple painted detailing. They were a contrast to the homey red tables and matching cushioned chairs. And all the mismatched potted plants offering their green leaves as colouring. This all pointed to a family run business, something that was later confirmed by the owner herself. She spoke to the toils of having to lay the laminate underfoot themselves and the uneven paint job of non-professionals, all done while she was pregnant with her second child.

Other than that it was a nice setting, it was an open space, one that was comfortable to sit in, where many such restaurants try to maximize their dining area with one to many, tightly crammed together tables. Here things were evenly spaced allowing you breathing room and the ability to hold a more private conversation from the table to your right. Everything was also kept very clean.

Their ice tea entry was a pandan flavoured milk tea made with ground and steeped pandan leaves. These leaves were also used to flavoured the cups of water they served, although very mildly, and I wouldn’t have even notice, if this wasn’t pointed out to me. I won’t be going into the actual flavour of the drink here, as the competition is still running. Instead, I will invite you to check back on my blog after the competition has ended, to read my thoughts on each of the drinks competing.

Instead, I will move on to all the food we enjoyed. The “Green papaya salad with beef jerky” was a fresh start to our meal. Thin shreds of carrot and daikon with lettuce, cilantro, beef jerky, fried shallots, and peanuts. It was spiciest at the bottom, where the sauce pooled. Therefore to best enjoy it, you stir up, mixing everything together. Note, it is easier to scoop what you want, then pour the sauce over it. And you will go back for several scoops, as this made for a lovely palette cleanser with a nice cooling crunch. I didn’t notice any of the beef jerky though.

The “Pork spring rolls” were light, crispy, and pretty standard. We got exactly what we expected from this, and was able to dunk each third into plenty of fish sauce.

The “Garlic butter chicken wing” was delicious on first bite. You immediately got the promise of its buttery flavour, peppered full with garlicky goodness, that evenly coated each crispy wing. This was the most memorable dish that we had, and one what I would come back for.

“Lemongrass chicken on rice” is my guest’s go to for Vietnamese food. Whenever she is at any new Vietnamese restaurant, this is the dish she orders, which she then uses as a gauge of food flavour and quality. She liked “Vietnamese Tea House’s” version plenty, but I found the meat a little dry and the amount of ginger textured lemongrass off putting. More so when I was surprised biting into a piece of chicken decorated with it.

The “Chicken curry” was most memorable to my guest. This is the first time she has had a sweeter curry like this, She enjoyed the creaminess of it thanks to its coconut base. Milder curries like these are my preferred type of curry. This one was rich and creamy, with a hint of spicy heat. It is made with tender pieces of dark meat chicken, mashed tomato, and softened potato cooked in a blend of coconut and homogenized milk. You had the option of enjoying it with either rice or bread, we choose the later given that we had rice in the dish before. All this only to learn that the bread that would accompany our soup-sized serving of curry would be the same type of baguette used in their banh mi after. Here we would pinch off bits and use it to sop up liquid curry like a sponge. The bread is the only thing they don’t make from scratch here.

The “Chicken sub” not only used the same bread as above, but the same type of tender and juicy dark meat chicken above as well.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A great destination for Vietnamese food. Everything was consistently prepared and I have no complaints, especially after learning that they focus on using only fresh ingredients and prepare everything themselves in house from the sauces and spreads, to all the pickled products. Not necessarily worth driving all the way for, but worth choosing before its neighbours. Don’t deny your cravings.

2526 E Hastings, Vancouver BC, V5K 1Z3

Sencha Tea Lounge

Today Vancouver Foodster’s Ice Tea Challenge brought me down to “Sencha”, a bubble tea house on West Broadway, also offering small bites.

On this warm day, the doors and front of the cafe was opened wide and inviting. It had a stone bar that crept up the wall, we would grab a couple of the wooden chairs by it, adjacent to the mirror on the wall.

Their menu showed the struggle they had trying to identify themselves. From nachos and onion rings, to Thai salad and marinated pork belly. I didn’t understand their theme, if any. What did they specialize in and what would they be better known for: pasta or rice bowls? When I asked our server this thoughts, he admitted that they were trying hard to cater to the neighbourhood. Predicting what their customers wanted and providing it for them on this accordion folded sheet.

Seeing as their ice tea was a classic bubble tea, I thought it best we’d pair it with some Taiwanese snacks. I won’t be reviewing the ice tea challenge contestants here, you’ll have to wait for the contest to end in order to read my take on each, as I don’t want to ruin the surprise. This is the “Honey Camellia milk tea” that tasted floral, like jasmine. It is one of the milk teas that comes regularly on their menu, a drink that they felt was worth featuring in this competition.

The fried chicken pieces were delicious. Fried to a crisp that lasted, heavily coating the juicy nuggets of dark meat chicken.

I was surprised and delighted by their baos. They weren’t the regular white dough buns, but baos flavoured in black sesame with a grey and black speckled exterior. We tried two flavours and both came with a side salad of green drizzled in a miso dressing.

The “Classic Pork” bun was their most popular bun and my favourite of the two. It was fatty pork belly baked crispy in a sweet sauce, with fresh cabbage and cucumber, all dressed in a thick crunchy peanut sauce that ties it altogether.

The “Kimchi Beef” was spicy coleslaw, barbecue sauce, and pickles. The meat was chewy and plenty saucy, with a good amount of hot spice, and a nice texture.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This is just a little too far to go for okay food. I would recommend it for those who like “bao-wiches”, given the unique flavouring of theirs. Don’t deny your cravings.


3468 W Broadway, Vancouver BC, V6R 2B3

Peanuts Bubble Tea

We came to the Richmond Public Market to have a meal in their food court. After a hearty carb-o-loaded sitting, we wanted to end our lunch with something sweet.

And a stand well known for that in the market is “Peanuts”. The are known for their bubble tea with real fruit and powder options in your favourite flavours. I had the papaya milk tea with pearls. I found it pretty standard. Tasty, thick, sweet. All flavours I expected.

I also grabbed four of their fresh made “Che lung bing” (wagon wheels), it was 4 for $2.75. They are available in both salty and sweet varieties, with flavours like red bean, chocolate, and radish which is salty.

Given their name I got one of their peanut filled wagon wheels and it turned out to be the best of the four. It has a great crunchy texture with crushed peanuts and coarse sugar. The cream one was luscious and light, really allowing the flavour of the breading to come through. The white chocolate was a little too sweet for my liking.

And the cheese was the most fun, how it stretched as we split the circle in half. This was my second favourite flavour of the batch. I would definitely have these again, shame they are so far to get to.


Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A little far to travel for snacks, but it is a great little something to pick up when you are already there. Don’t deny your cravings.


Richmond Public Market, Level 2
2130-8260 Westminster Highway, Richmond BC, V6X 1A7
Peanut's Bubble Tea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

ZenQ, Richmond

International Taiwanese dessert chain, “ZenQ” has another location. Its newest locale now calls Richmond home. Located on No. 3 road, they are in a prime position to take advantage of the grass jelly and tofu dessert trend, while offering tried and true bubble teas and drinks.

And this weekend (March 3rd and 4th, 2018), to help celebrate, they are offering a buy one get one free special to all customers who take the time to visit them. When you purchase any drink or dessert, you receive one of three possible drinks for free. You have a choice of either “Pearl Milk Tea”, “ZenQ Milk Tea with Grass Jelly”, or “Mango Refresher”. Here we have chosen to try their “Matcha Red Bean Smoothie”, the “Oreo Cocoa Ice Diamond”, and the “Match Red Bean Milk Tea”. The former and the latter are new to their drink menu, along with their peach, mango, and passion fruit “Refreshers”; and a series of peach, mango, and passionfruit green and black teas.

But what they are better know for is their desserts. It is at “ZenQ”, where my appreciation for dessert tofu blossomed. Whenever I eat out I feel the need to end in something sweet, but often I find desserts either too cold or too sweet. Whereas tofu desserts are the perfect medium. Chilled and slightly sweetened, easy to slurp up and refreshing. And here they offer it with various toppings like their squishy “Q balls”, peanuts, pearls, red bean, green bean, etc.

But for those who do want something cold and sweet, they have a wonderful assortment of shaved ice desserts they call “frappes”. Each, shards of ice shaved down from a block of frozen cream. Like Taro with vanilla ice cream, fresh taro, and Q balls. Or the Matcha with vanilla ice cream, pearls, red bean, and condense milk.

The above is all that we had during this visit, however each location offers so much more on menu. To find out what that is, and to learn more about the history of this international franchise and what the “Q” in their name stands for, read my original review by clicking the link below.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A solid representation of Taiwanese style drinks and dessert and a new location to serve those who are looking for it in Richmond. Don’t deny your cravings.


130-3471 NO 3 Road, Richmond BC, V6X 2B6
Zenq Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Boiling Point

The name is familiar, but up to this point I have yet to visit this well known hot pot chain. Typically when I enjoy hot pot, or when I crave it I am all about that bang for my buck. So I direct my attention to the all you can eat chains, but today I left the newest location of “Boiling Point” feeling just as full.

I was invited to this media event, to celebrate their grand opening on Main Street, their first location in Vancouver. Their other three are in Richmond, Surrey, and Burnaby. They have quickly become a fan favourite thanks to their individual sized pots, kept hot. The heat is thanks to the flame underneath, kept safe within their special platform. It stays lit and the soup stays boiling well into your meal. You can ask for more soup and a new fire, to extend the experience if you choose. And eating off a platform at an elevated height for optimum hand to mouth movement is enjoyable in itself.

When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

The restaurant is very modern. Red brick walls, a series of pipes leading to round light bulbs, and wooden tables and booths. It felt like a cafe you would find in Yaletown. But the steamed up and fogged up windows made them distinctly “Boiling Pot”.

The menu is very easy to navigate. A colourful fold-out listing all their flavoured soups and each and every ingredient that goes into it. A great way to be transparent with their customers and for those with allergies or preferences to be well informed.

To start, we tried each of their four available appetizers. They were ingredients you could find within their pots, highlighted on a plate.

“Spicy fermented tofu”. This is a traditional Taiwanese dish, and a must try according to their descriptive menu. They are proud to acknowledge that each triangle is produced from a certified factory in Taiwan. Their tofu is hand brewed from naturally fermented vegetables and contains no preservatives. It is quite a delicacy, if you can get past the smell of bad breath, and if you like spicy food. A firm texture, coupled with a unique taste, that grows on you. I found myself enjoying it more the second time around.

The “spicy cumin lamb” was the same thin slices of lamb in any hot pot, but here flavoured with cumin. But there was hardly enough spice to call it “spicy”. Which would have been nice with the drizzle of creamy white sauce shown in the menu, that was also missing. When I inquired about it, I was told that is not how they prepare it. Instead, it was tasty and tender, but not what was pictured or what I expected.

The “spicy beef” was like the tender and tasty lamb above, but instead seasoned with their signature Mala sauce. Another not spicy, but super tasty and curly ribbon of meat. Flavour-wise, similar to lamb above.

Also similar in texture was their “garlic pork belly”. Freshly sliced pork belly, topped with garlic, chilli, and soy sauce. More salty and sweet then garlicky.

As for their hot pots, they have 10 different soup bases available. You start by selecting your hot soup, next choosing your spice level for it, and then picking a complimentary add on. The latter is basically a bowl of rice or vermicelli to have with your savoury meal and soup. A bowl of carbs to make it extra filling, with a vessel to eat out of. I found eating straight out of a bubbling pot, sweaty work; not to mention the added low visibility if you are wearing glasses.

During lunch you also get a drink included with your meal. Either an iced green tea or an iced black tea. And for lunch your bill is $1 less. Lunch and dinner portions sizes are the same. There is no actual difference between the two, so you are basically paying a premium for when you decide to dine.

All their soups and sauces are made in their “Central kitchen”, located in Richmond. They are delivered to their four restaurants daily. Another fact they pride themselves on. Which is also why they don’t franchise. The brand wishes to continue controlling every aspect of their food, to ensure quality and brand uniformity. And the plan works. I can attest to how great the soup bases are, I never once reached out for any of the four homemade sauces that sat on each table. Clear jars filled with oils, pastes, and liquids available but not necessary. Everything came already well seasoned and flavourful, to the point where any more would be off-putting.

I myself did not order all these different flavours blow, but I was pretty insistent that those sitting with me couldn’t order the same thing, so that I could try them all. It work, they did and I did.

The “House special” was my favourite for its intensity and complexity of flavours. No two mouthfuls tasted the same between the broth with most depth, and all the ingredients bobbing about, within it. Napa cabbage, fermented tofu, sliced pork, enoki mushroom, kamaboko, meat ball in pork, clam, quail egg, pork blood, pork intestine, nira, tomato, preserved vegetables, and cilantro. Naturally the stinky tofu was fairly pronounced, but only in taste and not in smell. It and the quail’s egg really made this something you have never had before.

The “Korean bean paste” hot pot was spicy, my dining mate who ordered it asked for medium in heat, but it came out tasting a lot more like hot. A bright red pool with bean sprouts, nira, pork belly, kimchi, green zucchini, fish tofu, kamaboko, tempura, rice cake, enoki mushroom, fish fillet, wok noodles, lobster fish ball, crown daisy, seaweed, and Korean paste. It tasted like a Korean barbecue sauce but in soup form, with plenty of familiar Korean ingredients and textures.

I had their newest hot pot: the sweet “milk cream curry”. I had it mild so the curry combined with the cream was more sweet than spicy or savoury. The pot is delivered as a pool of yellow with half of it submerged in a thick blob of sea salt cream. The foam slowly melts into the curry broth the more it boils, or you can simply help it along by stirring things up. This pot had the least amount of ingredients, I found myself digging past all the Napa cabbage in search of a protein or a starch. Sliced pork, vermicelli, enoki mushroom, imitation crab stick, fish ball, dried tofu skin, corn, tempura, mountain yam, and Chinese string bean. There was also not enough vermicelli in the mix (my favourite part) thankfully I was smart enough to order more of it as my complimentary side.

The “Taiwanese spicy” delivered. This soup was served in a larger pot, as a larger serving than the others. Here you couldn’t choose your level of spice, it was heavy on the spice and that was it. I tried some and it had me coughing and tearing up after I inhaled it in too quick. Definitely not for those who like their food mild or even medium. Cabbage, instant noodle, tempura, clam, sliced angus beef, enoki mushroom, cuttlefish rings, fish balls, pork intestine, pork blood, maitake mushroom, fried tofu skin, iced tofu, green onion, and cilantro. It was hard to fully appreciate all these wonderful ingredients past the overwhelming amount of spice. But at least you could make them out based on their textures.

The “Japanese miso” was my second favourite pot, especially with the udon and raw egg that crowning the serving. It was a mild miso soup to fully highlight all the other ingredients. Cabbage, sliced pork, enoki mushroom, clam, soft tofu, fish ball, fish fillet, crab, egg, king oyster mushroom, fried tofu skin, and green onion.

They also had a Thai version that I was interested in. I suspect that this would be reminiscent of Tom Yum. And there was also a tomato based broth for the vegetarians. And for those looking for something more simple you can choose your protein in a more traditional soup base. Lamb, beef, or seafood.

To accompany your hot pot they have a hefty list of drinks. Juices, teas, hot drinks, and soda. I went with a milk tea to help refresh my palette and cool my tongue. I found the “Hokkaido milk tea” just amazing. I would could back just go take this to go. Luckily it comes in a to-go cup, in case you can’t finish and find yourself having to.

For the same reason, their new dessert was a popular way to end your time with them. The “milky soft herbal jelly”. Is also made within their central kitchen. It is prepared in the traditional way, using the Mesona Chinese herb. Then packaged to-go in a portable plastic cup and lid, with label; looking like it could be sold commercially in a grocery store. It included a compartment to keep the pods of milk separate, just waiting for you to peal back their cover and pour them out. The dessert as a whole was very refreshing. It was the perfect slurp of neutral to wash away all the potent seasonings and spices used in your entree. A jelly without a taste, that its tastelessness soon defines it.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I really enjoyed my time with them and tasting all the hot pots they offered. One of my biggest complaints against hot pot is that many broths offered are so flat, so you soon find yourself leaning heavily on sauces to flavour your meal. Here I didn’t touch any of it. And even though it’s not all you can eat, $15 gets you plenty. Majority of us couldn’t finish our shares. Don’t deny your cravings.


4148 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 3P7
Boiling Point Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Memory Corner

My guest and I were looking for somewhere to eat within Richmond. The only problem was we were too late for lunch and too early for dinner. So we found ourselves with the need to drive around the city, in search of something that was open, that we liked, and/or were willing to wait until 5pm for (2hours).

This journey led us to “Memory Corner”, which sadly wasn’t our first choice, or even our fourth. But like most other bubble tea places, it had an earlier opening time and a later close with no breaks between lunch and dinner rushes.

Here, parking would be inconvenient if its neighbouring business were in operation. But on this weekend, there were enough free stalls at the back, one of a handful of shared spots in the alley.

This was a smaller cafe with modest decor. Wooden planks lined the bottom half of the walls and surrounded the bar. The top half of the wall was trimmed in black, with inky leaves climbing down towards the floor. Floors, that were tiled with spotted and aged squares. A few keepsakes and seasonal decorations lined the counter and sat on the bar. The smurf figurine and Spongebob sketches gave the place some personality.

We sat at one of their free tables by the window. Like the others, this one carried a laminated sign, asking for your patience. Everything is made fresh to order in the restaurant so it is necessary to wait for your meal, up to 30 minutes during their busier times. With their photo-heavy menu we were able to choose a few dishes to share based on how they looked.

The “Taiwanese meat sauce on rice” came surprisingly quick, which made me think it must have been premade, and simply kept warm in a rice cooker? (Despite the sign). Although it was thoroughly cooked and hot throughout. It was a cross between sticky rice and steamed rice, with plenty of thick beef sauce and chunks of meat for texture. All together it had a sweeter flavour, with the soy sauce, hard boiled egg, and pickle available for a change with tang and salt. This was Taiwanese comfort eating with simple home cook flavours.

The “Taiwanese shrimp pancake” was made with glutinous dough, bean sprouts, and vegetable. The pieces of shrimp were sparsely hidden with in the soggy pancake. It had a chewy and starchy texture that grows on you, the more you eat at it. It was finished with a vinegar-sweet sauce. Over it was the interesting texture that made it memorable. A texture you can’t find anywhere else, accept from our next dish.

“Meat ball in rice wrap”. The same gummy texture as above, but saltier with a fishy sauce and a shredded chicken filling.

The “House specialty lamb hot pot for one” came with rice and sauces. It was mild flavoured with a nice warming broth. The lamb meat was so tender that it fell off the bone. It was seasoned well enough to enjoy as is, and with a dip into the soy sauce and chilli dish.

We also ordered bubble teas to have with our meal, but it came half way through, after all the food and within to-go cups. The problem is that we both ordered drinks from their “potted milk” series, wanting it for its layer of cream and cookie “dirt”, finished off with a sprig of mint. In the plastic sealed cups, it came without this aesthetic. When I brought it to the attention of our servers they simply brought out some mint, which we inserted into our drinks, after we trimmed off the plastic seal ourselves (for this photo). Seeing as we were dining in, I didn’t think we had to clarify that the drinks were for here, especially having ordered them with everything else and dessert, all in one go.

Although I really shouldn’t have expected otherwise, given that there was so much difficulty in placing our drink orders in the first place. It felt like our server found our substitution too complicated. My guest needed to switch out regular milk with lactose-free soy in the original beverage he wanted. But this was not possible, in order to get a lactose-free beverage we had to order one that came listed under the “organic soy milk selection”. Which we did and it was the same difference. We then stressed that we wanted it “potted”. And once again we were disappointed in what actually came. The drinks themselves were just matcha soy milk tea and regular milk tea with grass jelly; topped with cream and Oreo cookie crumbles, that you mix in for an added sweetness and crunch. But you have to constantly stir before you sip, as the two do tend to separate.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
We were planning on having some dessert, and were eyeing the “Ferrero rocher honey toast”, but after such a blasé meal we decided to head somewhere else. There was nothing necessary bad with it, but on the same token there was nothing exciting about it either. Maybe it was that we had our heart set on three other stops before, and that we had to settle. But I cannot see myself driving all the way out to Richmond for this, nor I would not shy away from a return visit, if in the area. It was a meal that grows on you. Don’t deny your cravings.


6900 Number 3 Road, Richmond BC, V6Y 2C5
Memory Corner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chatime, Fairview

“Chatime” is a glowbal teahouse brand, originating from Taiwan. They are well known for their shaken, churned, and blended bubble tea and tea related drinks. And in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, this franchise has made a boom. Like with “Starbucks”, you can pretty much find one location in every major area. And like the coffee mongrel, these shops have devoted fans flocking to them as soon as they open at 11am daily, staying till when they close around 11pm.

They are popular because all of the teas that they use are brewed fresh in store, and of a fine quality. That and the ability to customize any of their drinks just the way you like. With each beverage you can select how much sugar or cream goes into your cup. You can even nitpick on the quantity of ice that is used to chill it.

I had recently downloaded their rewards-based app, which gifted me a complimentary drink. So today, I was eager to redeem those points. I trekked down to the nearest “Chatime” location, by my workplace. Their trademark purple marked the spot.

I checked online and approached the cafe, reading that they were open at 11am. I had scheduled my break around this time to ensure the shortest wait, when they first opened for the day. I was planning on ordering six beverages and didn’t want to hold anyone up. All this, to find out that their doors were still locked. This is despite the sign in the window reading “open: 11am”. And the fact that I called the night before to confirm their start time. A poster outside invited customers to order over the phone. I heeded its suggestion and called in twice, and both times it went straight to voice mail.

By 11:10am there were two of us waiting outside, by 11:15am six individuals, and by 11:20am eight people across five different groups/pairings/solos. I guess purple needed their shaken drink fix first thing before lunch.

So there we were, we stood silently waiting for the man with the turned baseball cap to acknowledge us. He continued to work feverishly to prep his day, as he met our furrowed brows. He eventually did let us in, explaining that their company policy was to not open up for business until there were two employees staffed to handle the workload. It looked like his colleague was late. His explanation made me sympathetic, we have all been there. From here everyone was willing to wait. They understood that he was on his own, and would need to take and process each drink order before making it.

I always find bubble tea menus overwhelming and “Chatime’s” was no difference. Their store front and counter side bombarded you with options and choices. How is one to choose? And is trying something new or different worth the gamble if you didn’t like the first sip.

Given that they have an upcoming promotion in November, I decided to order from their mousse/tea-latte series to take advantage of it. They had six different types of sweet drinks to pair with their savoury mousse topping. I was going to make my six, one of each flavour. But they only had enough of the premade mousse for three cups, so I had to narrow my choice down to three. I simply went for their most popular three: black tea, matcha, and chocolate. The mousse and its hint of salt highlighted the sweetened flavours of the above. It is best when you stir the mousse thoroughly in, this way you get an even blend and sip.

And between November 10-12, 2017, every “Chatime” BC mousse drink purchase benefits the “Movember Foundation”. Where the first 100 customers to post a mousse moustache selfie during this time, gets another one for free. A good way to treat a friend, or try a flavour you otherwise might not have, if you had to pay for it.

For those unfamiliar, “Movember” is the month that brings attention to men’s health issues like prostate and testicular cancer. For more details and how you can participate, aside from growing a moustache, check out the Movember website:

For my other three drinks I went for the very trendy blue drinks made butterfly pea flower tea. Its advertisement attracted my attention walking in. The photo showed a series of bold and opaque sky blue drinks. But what I got was a translucent dark purple liquid, hinging on black. I was disappointed by its appearance, but at least the flavour held up. Butterfly pea flower really doesn’t have a taste, whatever you mix with it, is the flavour you get.

I went for the one with grapefruit, another with mango, and the last with green tea mixed in. The differences in liquids were clear given the blocks of colour visible through the plastic cup.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I find the experience in any “Chatime location” is consistent from one shoppe to the next. They are your staple for bubble tea and other tea and milk based drinks, juices, or slushes. And now there is an even better reason to visit and purchase a mousse latte from
Them between November 10-12, 2017. Don’t deny your cravings.


1545 West Broadway, Vancouver BC
Chatime Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

ZenQ, Marpole

If you haven’t noticed, Taiwanese tea house brand “Chatime” has open dozens of new franchise locations all across the Lower Mainland over the last couple of years. In almost every area, you can expect one of its purple awnings. So it is no surprise to learn that their sister dessert shop, “ZenQ” is right behind them with two locations in Richmond and Coquitlam, and a third on its way in the next couple of months, at Hastings and Willingdon.

During the time of this visit, the location I visited at Marine Gateway has only been open for a week. This was their soft launch and they were still working out their day to day operations, before advertising a grand opening.

“ZenQ” supplements desserts to “Chatime’s” extensive drink menu. A few locations of the former has been known to open up within the latter. Having “ZenQ” locations in Vancouver means there is a platform and a place to go for more traditional Chinese style sweet soups and jellies. Something that should be consistent with their offerings in Asia. Especially considering that when new franchise owners purchase their businesses, they get flown to Taiwan to see the brand in its popularity high, running optimally. This is before they head back home to replicate this phenomenon for themselves. But as they do, they have help. “ZenQ” also sends new franchise owners their own trainer. The trainer’s goal is to walk new owners through each process and to be their coach in driving a successful venture.

Here, I learned that “QQ” means chewy. And that the single “Q” in their name, their slogan “wow so Q!”, and the name of their popular rice balls is a reflection of that chewiness. The “Q” reminds you of their chewy claim to fame. And given how much I liked them, I can see why they have grown internationally. I would easily come back for more and recommend them just for their rice balls with no issue.

All said balls are made by hand and from scratch ingredients. Available in either mango, matcha, or sweet potato flavours with their accompanying colours. The process is as follows. The flavouring ingredients are steamed and mixed into a dough. The dough is hand rolled and cut into pieces, then stored in the freezer for some cold treatment, before you boil them to the perfect tenderness. This is to keep each doughy ball’s intended shape and texture. And it works. The balls make a strong appearance in their tofu pudding and grass jelly series.

Their menu is easy to navigate with all their available drinks and desserts being sectioned off into their own “series” and corresponding categories. During this media event we were able to try an item out if each series.

When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

This is their “Tofu pudding no.3” with sweet potato, peanuts, Q balls, and pearls. Each serving in the series differs by ingredients, with each assembly being assigned a different number. Chinese desserts aren’t typically not too sweet, they are flavourful with a large emphasis on texture, and this was a great example of such within this bowl. A variety of textures in this sugar sweeten soup-syrup. It was a nice slurp with jiggly pudding chunks, chewy Q rice balls, squishy tapioca pearls, melty boiled sweet potato, and peanuts for a soggy yet firm texture. I have never been a fan of cooked peanuts because I think their natural crunch is already so great, and that you lose that by cooking it. None-the-less they are easy enough to eat around.

As I mentioned earlier, their Q balls also make a popular appearance within their grass jelly series. This is their “Hot grass jelly no.2”, and like the bowl above, the number differentiates the serving by its additional toppings. No.2 comes with taro, pearls, various Q balls, and a scoop of brown sugar ice. Its hard to describe grass jelly to someone who has never had it. I can best liken it to black jello flavoured with sugar cane syrup. With the addition of the brown sugar, it had a certain molasses sweetness to it, helpful in tying everything else together in a complimentary tone.

From the “Royal sweet soup series”. We had their “Red bean soup no.3” with sweet potato. Now, other than from here, I don’t know where else you can get red bean soup that isn’t in a sit down Chinese restaurant. Although it’s just as well, given that I am not a fan of the graininess that accompanies red bean. I can see those more unfamiliar, being scared off by the look of it. With its murky water and mud like texture it doesn’t look like any traditional North American style dessert. More like sweet soup with an orange zesty after taste.

The “Longan black glutinous rice no.3” came with boiled tender sweet potato chunks. I wasn’t a big fan of this one either. It had a smiliar granulated texture like the soup above. Although with the glutinous rice it at least had a nicer chew to it. However this just left me even more dissatisfied as I wanted even more chewiness from it. I bit into a boiled Logan fruit thinking it was a Q ball. It wasn’t sweet, but more medical with a rich herbal after note, thanks to the brewing of it within this bowl of water and rice.

This wasn’t what I was expecting when I learned read “Creamy frappes” as a subsection on the menu. I was imagining a Starbucks popularized frappuccino. Whereas this was more than that, and more like shaved ice. A mound of sheared mango flavoured fluffy ice, served with a side of mango jelly cubes, fresh mango chunks, a healthy drizzle of condense milk, and rainbow cereal. The fruit loops not only gave the dessert some visual interest, but it also added crunch and a new flavour profile when you bite into a neon loop.

They also make homemade waffles pressed to order. I found these tasted a lot like bubble waffles with their light eggy-‘ness. This was their “Fresh fruit waffle” with mango, strawberry, honey dew, and banana slices. Finished off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. I suggest eating this as soon as you get it for a cakey waffle that resembles angel food cake. Otherwise you are facing a hard lump of dough. There was a lot more fruit than waffle. Whereas I wanted more substance and the ability the pair the right amount of fresh cut up fruit to toasted waffle pieces, and maybe some sauce to bind it all together.

I much preferred the Banana chocolate waffle with fresh banana, chocolate sauce and chocolate ice cream. The flavour of the chocolate spread was the highlight, and banana is a standard pairing with it. There was no complaints with this one. I got exactly what I expected.

From here we transitioned into drinks. From the “ZenQ tea time series” I really enjoyed their handmade taro milk tea. This one has to be served hot given its texture and the need to mash up and stir-in the grittiness of the real taro root with heated milk.

The rest of our drinks were served cold in plastic cups. Up first was their “ZenQ grass jelly” drink. A very tea-heavy milk tea with whole chunks of grass jelly.

From their “Handmade tea series” we had their “Mango blue mountain green tea”. The mango has the drink starting out sweet, and then ending bitter with the tea.

From the same series is their “Strawberry black tea”. It was a little too sweet with too much strawberry flavour for my taste.

The “Oreo cocoa ice diamond” was part of their “Special drinks series”. The “Ice Diamond” refers to its cold and crystallized texture. This one more closely resembled a frappe with its blended up dessert like-flavour.

The “Winter melon black tea” of the same series wasn’t as expected. I have tried winter melon syrup before and its sweet and sugary notes didn’t transition into this cup. With the use of almond milk for creaminess, this drink was more nutty, hiding all the flavour of the mild winter melon.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I wouldn’t be apposed to a return visit, but it is a little far for me to drive to just for a casual drink and dessert spot. A solid representation of Taiwanese style drinks and dessert for those in the area though. Don’t deny your cravings.


495 SW Marine Drive, Vancouver BC
ZenQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

45 Degree Bubble Tea House

Bubble tea using real steeped and brewed coffees and teas make all the difference. And I think drink shops like “45 degrees” are realizing the extra effort makes all the difference, and that their customers are willing to pay for the quality of a fine tea over powdered anything. So when I was invited to this media event I was very optimistic, after all their slogan is, “Try it. Say no more.”

When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

The cafe is located downtown, adjacent to many offices and high rise homes, but not really on the path that has many pedestrians walking past it. Thus making them more of a destination. A place for an after work, non alcoholic drink; or as a hang out with friends looking to catch up.

The shop is inviting with its all glass front, and seating on the sidewalk. Inside, it appears they are still trying to sort out their theme and/or decor. Their furniture is a collective of mismatched coloured chairs to similar tables, and painting sitting on random shelves and resting against the ground and its wall. The latter pretty alone, but this too didn’t match from one canvas to the other.

The menu is a televised screen at the counter. It is a comprehensive list written in 8 point font. But without a description under each menu item, as one unfamiliar with Chinese style tea house menus, I wasn’t sure what I would be getting if I ordered the “jade dew” or a “green dragon”. Luckily their divide between each sub-sections of tea was easy enough to navigate. The original mousse and it’s low calorie counterpart were teas topped with a creamy foam top. With milk tea drinks, you had the ability to have served hot or cold. Black tea or green tea came with the same option of fruit flavouring. And for something a little more creamy, you can add on a scoop of ice cream to any fruit slush. Or for 50 cents a scoop, you had your choice of additional toppings like the popular brown tapioca pearls, along with other jellies and puddings. You can also adjust how much sugar and sweetness you desired for your drink. And for the morning crowd they also offered your favourite coffee shop darks and lattes with syrup flavourings.

Of note, we were given several regular sized drinks to share between eight individuals. So my assessments below are based off of collaborative commentary and trying only a couple of sips of each. So I can’t tell you if each beverage had longevity, and if it tasted as good the first sip all the way to the last drop. But what I can say is, as a whole you definitely tasted the difference good quality and properly steeped tea can bring to a cup. Although be warn, as such, it does take time to prepare your drink.

Their name comes from their specialty designed cups and lids and the need to tilt it at a 45 degree angle to optimize drinking from it. This lid has a protruding plastic piece, in which you push down like a trap door, in order to sip in. It is mostly used for their mousse beverages, like the “Rose osmanthus milk tea” that we tried. This has rose syrup, rose tea, osmanthus, and mousse cream. The mousse is what you start of with and finish with when drawing in a sip. It begins sweet, but leaves you with a saltier after note. I would have preferred the mousse paired with a darker, more bitter black tea; than with the lightness of this floral rose that was too perfume-y, and yet was still overpowered by the fragrant mousse cream. Overall, an interesting idea, but not my favourite drink. Maybe if we stirred the cream in and drank it blended in with the tea I would have liked it more.

Served in the same cup was their “Peach mojito”, although despite its name, actually contains no mint. This is club soda and fruit with a bubbly and refreshing taste. It is available, but as of yet not listed on the menu.

I much more preferred their milk tea drinks, which really celebrates their use of high end teas. Like the “Peach oolong milk tea” which was well received by the group. This is another one that has yet to make its appearance on their menu, but I can see doing very well.

I found the “Toffee black tea milk with espresso” strong with a bitter taste. It came with none of the expected sweetness of toffee, having me deem it more for the coffee lover.

I was intrigued by the “Sweet olive green tea”, as I have never heard of or thought to flavour tea with the briny flavour of olives. The drink is herbaceous, tangy, and bitter to start, but it grows on you. If I didn’t know it was made with olives, I wouldn’t have been able to guess.

And the “Black dragon milk tea with caramel jelly”, was everyone’s favourite. We found it tasted like caramel and toffee candy in a liquid form, and that the jelly at the bottom added a nice chew and made for a great note to end on.

For something with less kick, their “Green apple and pear with Four season oolong tea” hit the spot. Another new option to the menu and the best of the tea prominent blends we tried today.

By contrast the “Ultimate fruit punch with lime, strawberry, orange, and apple” flooded you with fruit flavours and floral notes. You got the tea base with its bitter afternotes, highlighted by the zestiness of all the citrus fruit.

They aren’t currently offering any snacks, as told by their glass display case being completely empty. But today we got a taste of what may come. They will be offering a waffle filled with custard, and it is so new that it doesn’t even have a name. We likened it to a corn dog in shape and the fact that it is skewered through with a stick, making it hard to eat around. The dough reminded me of Chinese style baked coconut sticky rice cake, which I like. I just wish they were more generous with the cream filling, as this would have helped to give the dessert some more chewy moisture. Or maybe offer the custard on the side as a dip as much as you like sort of deal.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I like their tea and coffee blended drinks, but wouldn’t travel out here just for one. A great way to quench your thirst in the neighbourhood, but I think they would need some savoury snacks to partner with their sweet drinks, in order to make them more of a gathering point. Don’t deny your cravings.


45 Degrees
1467 W Pender Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 2S3
45 Degree Bubble Tea House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


“Myst” is a Taiwanese restaurant defining themselves as an Asian fusion eatery. Here they prescribed to the belief that more is more.

Their fullsome menu matches their large restaurant space, their longer hours; and their ability to cater to various appetites from 7:30am breakfasts to late night snacks at 1am. The only thing out of sync with this was their parking situation out front. They shared their lot with another fairly large restaurant and there just isn’t enough stalls to go around. Therefore the one way road easily becomes anything goes, in order to get a coveted spot (this blogger is speaking from experience). Although, given the right time of day, curb side spots are available as well.

The restaurant is all new and it shows with clean lines and simple symmetry. Wooden beams flowed parallel to the squared floor tiles, and all the tables and booth seats ran in between both. Frosted glass with linear criss cross etching created extra separation between seating arrangements. And an all window front gave the place all the day time lighting it needed. However, when the sun sets and night falls, they are able to attract the vision of hungry diners passing by, with their neon blue lights. The LEDS trim the ceiling and bathes the room in a mechanical blue.

Today I was one out of a handful of food bloggers and media influencers that was invited to taste and try some of their signature dishes, before their grand opening the day after (April 21, 2017). As a Chinesebites event. And judging by the steady of traffic of this Thursday evening, and the wait at the door for a table during this soft launch period, I believe they will do just fine. Especially given their offerings below.


As always when it pertains to a media event, plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

There was so much food at this event. Therefore, as a double edged sword, in order to be able to try it all, I wasn’t able to have much of many and therefore my review won’t be as thorough as it normally is. Similarly there are some dishes that I would have otherwise deemed good, but when compared to others that stood out so much more, I couldn’t help but rank them less by comparison. As a result, I strongly suggest taking what I have written in quick summary with a grain of salt. And simply visit yourself, and try anything that you read below that deemed interesting enough to do so.

Their fusion Asian cuisine was pretty much 80% Taiwanese, featuring Hakka style with nods to Japanese cooking. The dishes that follow are in order of which they came to us.

“Preserved cabbage with shredded pork fried rice cake”. I really enjoyed the chewy texture of the rice cakes sliced thin, however found that the strands of bitter pickled vegetable took away from it. Definitely an acquired flavour.

The “Myst delux marinated pork with rice” was listed under traditional rice combos. There was a little too much going on in this for me. Between the strong salty flavour of spicy sausage, the sweet fluffy texture of the pork floss, the briny flavour of the preserved vegetable, and even stronger tang of the yellow oshinko pickle. I would have liked the bowl more simple, or at least more rice to offer a better base. I would have ordered it just with the minced pork in gravy over rice, topped with the runny egg, and accompanied by the spongy shrimp roll.

By comparison, the “TaiNan style egg noodle soup” was a little bland. It has a nice fishy broth with sweet noodles and shrimp, to enjoy as a lighter meal.

There are several marinaded items, available for you to pick and choose, to construct your own cold appetizer plate. Selecting more than two out of the nine options earns you 5% off. Ordering three or more varieties gets you 10% off. You paid for each item, and each varied in price. They were seasoned fairly similarly so you are pretty much choosing each for its texture. Here it was the chewy cartilage of pork ear string, the thick gelatine-like chew of thick cut seaweed, and the squeaky crumble of dried tofu.

One of my favourites was the “Assorted deep fried basket” with salty peppery squid tentacles, crispy fish cake, and earthy rice cake. This was yet another dish enjoyable for its medley of textures. Thankfully of flavour on its own, as I can’t really think of a sauce that would go well with any of this.

The “Myst beef noodle soup” was disappointingly salty, a noticeable point even after the first slurp. And there wasn’t a good beef to noodle ratio. More of the latter when you wanted more than two pieces of stomach, two gelatine-like tendons, and two smaller chunks of stringy beef.

Another one I really liked was the “Shanghai steamed sticky rice dumplings”. Flavourful rice wrapped in a package of nice chewy dough. It equated to the perfect union of carbs wrapped in starch, a good way to be for me.

The “Taiwanese style fried rice vermicelli” was a stir fry of textures. Thin noodles meet julienned cuts of carrot and lettuce, and thin strips of beef. It was very similar to what my mother made for us growing up. Homestyle.

The “House special spicy lamb hot pot” delivered on its promise of heat. The pot arrived on its own pedestal, kept boiling by a crackling candle light. There was a lot of assorted meat and seafood along with the lamb; like imitation crab, sausage, and tofu. And to make it a full meal it came with some garnished rice, a dish of preserved salty vegetables and some seasoned meat and nuts for crunch. I found the red broth of the pot a little too hot personally, but Diana from Foodology was not shy to take the entire portion left behind home for meals to come.

The “Chives, shrimp, and pork dumplings” were nice. Flavourful without the sauce and better with. It was exactly as expected.

“Delicious sandwiches” were their name an not so much my description. They were your typical Taiwanese style sandwiches with meat, egg, and vegetables stacked between three toasted layers of white bread. What stood out was the sweet mayo used and how it was quick to liquidity with the condensation of the fresh tomato and cucumber. You would squeeze the triangle and pools of white fluid would run. I could have used less of this and a second layer of ham, or some spam (like how my mom use to prepare it) for an increased meaty presence.

The “Deep fried ginger flavour chicken whole wings” was another favourite of mine. Crispy skin, juicy dark meat, and plenty of flavour throughout. This is definitely one to go back for.

By comparison the “Fried chicken in chili pepper” wasn’t as dynamic. Less flavour and more chilli spice. There was also what seemed like more bone per chunk of chicken.

The “Pan fried beef pancake” is a Taiwanese classic. Beef flavoured by a sweet and tangy sauce, rolled up in a salty green onion pancake. It tasted as I expected it too, but I found it too salty to have more than one bite of.

The “Chive and shrimp spring roll” was pretty unspectacular as well. They were under stuffed and over fried. Too oily to the touch for my liking.


And the most memorable dish for me was the “Golden sand prawns with salted egg yolk sauce”. Having only had egg yolk over seafood once before in Malaysia, I vowed to find a representation of it in Vancouver; and here I have. I didn’t bother peeling back the shell of the prawn and ate it as is, sans the head and tail. After all that’s where all the seasoning was. It had the texture of melted sand, an enjoyable kind of graininess with that distinct rich yolky flavour. Truly one of a kind, and one I really recommend trying.

The “Myst Japanese style egg fried rice” was a nice rice dish. Airy with seafood and the distinct Japanese combo of sweet mayo, spicy seaweed, and toasted sesame seeds. It made a great base to enjoy along with a few of the other dishes.

For the skewers each order comes with a minimum of three. They had the traditional chicken, lamb, and pork available. But we were given a more exotic mix of fishcake, chicken gizzard, and pork intestine. They had a nice char to them, but a little on the dry side. A mild sauce to dip them into would have been nice. Especially with the after taste of the more gamier organ meats.

“Fried green beans with minced pork” is another Taiwanese classic that I gravitate towards. They were pan fried fresh and crisp, with a sweet and salty meat sauce. This was a way to get your vegetables in, between all the carbs and meat available.

And the “Japanese style takoyaki” was as expected in flavour and texture. More melty dough then squishy octopus. Though I could have done with less of the brown sauce, as it was fairly salty with it.

For dessert we were given a mix of traditional and modern Asian style desserts. For the former the “Myst jelly” was a unique offering. Apparently it is a winter melon jelly. But more like jello, accept a lot more firm. It tasted like molasses and cane syrup and was a lot too sweet for me. It would have been nice to have accented the flavour with some coffee, to balance out the sugar with some bitter. But that would no longer be tradition I guess.

And none of us were prepared for the “Hakka style sweet rice cake”. It is normally served looking more like a roll cake. Here it is a sweet dessert sticky rice in a bowl. The cut up dates embedded within overpowered with a sharp medicinal flavour that battled against the sesame seeds. Not one I would recommend, unless you have had it before and know what you are getting yourself into.

Everyone was much more receptive of the Myst taiyaki. This is an ice cream sundae served in an edible sugar cone bowl with matcha ice cream, red bean sauce, and sticky rice balls. And the taiyaki acts more like a side. A chewy sweet dough pastry hiding more gooey red bean. It would have been best enjoyed warm, instead of left to cool at room temperature and made to match the cold of the ice cream. Okay together, but better separate as two distinct desserts.

But what really got the cameras flashing was the smoke from the dry ice accenting their “snowflake ice” desserts. This was flavoured shaved ice available in mango, green tea and red bean, and cookies and cream. We received the pink strawberry one. The fruit was tart, but like the ice, sweetened by the scoop of artificial strawberry ice cream and the drizzle of condense milk. But it was a little too much strawberry on strawberry action for me, I would have liked the ice flavoured like condense milk or lychee instead, to balance things out.

All this food and I can see them being more popular for just their drinks. Their drink menu was just as extensive and as varied as their food one. From favourite bubble tea flavours, to all the trendy colour changing, cookie topping, towering creations available elsewhere.

I made claim to one of their flavoured slushes after confirming that this towering high creation would be indeed coming to me with marshmallow eyes. A few others placed their order for this too, however their slushes were either too watery, and its top half didn’t make it to the table, or dropped just as it landed. Mine was made last and at a much smaller scale, and therefore survived. I later added straw arms for novelty sake. This is the green apple and was accurate in flavour.

The following are what others at our table ordered.

The “Potted milk tea” was a milk tea topped with ground up Oreo cookie crumbs, and finished off with a real green leaf for ornamental sake. It gave the drink the illusion of a potted plant, hence the name.

The “Mousse green tea” similarly had a topping above its drink. This was a thick foam that you could stir in to sweetened the cup.

And they also offered the regular kind of milk tea with your choice of pearls, grass jelly, or other bubble tea toppings.

Uchikinoki ice cream smoothie

Calpis butterfly pea flower Tea and the Strawberry lemon butterfly pea flower tea.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
They seem almost like a one stop Chinese food stop. Lots to try, something for everyone. Don’t deny your cravings.


#2 6400 Kingsway Burnaby BC, V5E 15C
Myst Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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