Feeling unsatisfied from our rushed Richmond night market experience, we sought out snacks at a bubble tea place to quell any remaining hunger. This meal would be filling and cost a fraction of what we paid top dollar for, waiting in line.
There aren’t many restaurants in Vancouver open until 2pm, there are bars and clubs, but what if you just want to sit and eat in a well lit room? Richmond offers many such establishments. They cater to the late nighters who want a nice warm setting to wind down the evening, and a place to enjoy some non alcoholic drinks and banter in.
There is no look in, as the entire exterior is covered in white paper patterned with bamboo leaves and Chinese script. I had visited before, so know what to expect. It hadn’t change all that much, the restaurant was just as I remembered it. A pooling water feature as you entered, seating across two sections with a raised platform, colourful cut outs in wood on the wall, and shadow boxes built into the floor displaying sand and fake greenery at your feet.
The restaurant was low key, a great spot for those looking for a quieter Saturday night. The setting allowed a group of men the ability to play several rounds of “cards against humanity”, as they wrapped up their meal, and I listened on in horror.
I don’t come to the area often, so chose this as our destination with a specific dish in mind. I knew what I wanted to get my guest to try, so didn’t hesitate when the menu warned my choice would take some time to complete. I have it before and wanted him to experience the novelty of meat and vegetables cooked in a broth that was basically a bubble tea drink. It was a weird combination that raised an eyebrow, but somehow just worked.
This was a single portion of their hotpot with a “Pearl milk tea” broth. It comes with a bowl of steamed rice, a dish of sauce, and some tapioca pearls that you dispense into the pot yourself, so should you choose. The cast iron pot sits on a wooden pedestal that includes a tea light beneath it. The heat of the flame keeps things warm to the last spoonful. Admittedly the dish is best warm, as it’s mostly the soup that you are enjoying. We later agreed that this made a great before bed snack, it warmed our insides like microwaved milk, and helped propel both of us into a comforting night of sleep.
The hot pot is sweet with tapioca pearls, and savoury with pieces of pork, and fish cake. The pearls had a nice pop to them, giving the dish a freshness from its jelly texture. The bitter of the cabbage comes through quite pronounced, adding an odd herbaceous-ness to the mix. It’s a contrasting flavour profile that just works, but you aren’t sure of it until you find yourself taking in sip after sip and finishing the portion. The broth almost had a cream of mushroom soup quality to it. And with the rice it reminded my guest of risotto. However it was the chunky garlic and chilli sauce that gave more of the boiled ingredients its flavour.
We also wanted some dessert and leaned towards one of the full box toasts with ice cream, however they were out of hollowed out cubes of bread. So instead we ordered the “Peanut butter condense milk thick toast”. The name was pretty clear and it delivered on all that it promised. Melty peanut butter drizzled over with sweet condense milk. The slice of bread was indeed thick, it was toasted with a crunch, giving it a nice contrast to its chewy and spongey centre. We got this one first and ate it hot, only to wish we had this sweetness to end on.
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 Taiwanese bubble tea house with all the drinks and snacks you would expect. An easy and inexpensive meal late at night (they open until 1am or 2am). What you wouldn’t expect is the milk tea hot pot, which gives you a new way to enjoy your favourite chewable beverage. An experience worth trying, just to say that you have. Don’t deny your cravings.