This one has been a long time coming. I have tried to visit this Taiwanese import for a while now, but kept encountering lengthy lines at its original location. So with its second in Burnaby, in a less frequented area, with plenty of parking to boot; a visit is much more feasible.
Its all windowed exterior and bright interior lights make it a beacon in the night. Easy to spot driving by, where everything else is shuttered for the evening. There menu is televised above the counter and taped up on a pillar by the door. It is easy to read and make your choice by sight. 11 specialty drinks and your typical teas with the possibility to add in pearls.
My guest is already a frequent customer so knew what she was getting, the same thing she gets every time. Their trademark specialty drink, the one that they are most famous, and the one the menu highlighted with a larger photo of.
“Brown sugar pearl milk”. An additional level of decadence is added to your typical pearl milk tea. The tapioca pearls are mixed in with melted brown sugar. The latter has a sticky toffee-like consistency, adhering to the pearl and the cup; making it look “dirty” (another nick name used to describe this class of drink). This combining of pearl and brown sugar is done throughout the day, when they sell through of one batch. If you visit at the right time, you will be treated to the show of them making it, and the scent of a room sweetened by cooking sugars. A specialty wok is placed at the counter, set behind glass for a hygienic view point. Here is where the magic happens, and the pearls stay until they are scooped in to cups using a specialty curled metal spatula.
As for the drink itself: It is a scoop of these brown sugar extra sweeten pearls, milk, cocoa power, and a vanilla cream foam topping that is torched. You can smell its burnt caramel flavour just by holding it. But surprisingly it is not as sweet as you think it would be. Drinking it without stirring, it tastes like slightly chocolatey milk. But after a good mix, folding the foam into the milk and having its torched heat warm up the serving, it is pretty darn tasty. A sweetness that is great the first few sips, but wears on you after a few more. No complaints from my guest who admitted that this was her second one in as many days.
I preferred the “bunny jelly mango smoothie”, this was also recommend by the laminated colour menu. A larger photo to have the allure of a rabbit on your drink lure you in. It was impressive that they were able to make the drink thick enough to have the coconut jelly moulded bunny sit a top of the drink without sinking. This too was sweet, but better with the tartness of their mango and the blended ice that helped to thicken it. In this drink you don’t get the regular black pearls, these were called “pink pearls”. They were squishier and popped more than the regular pearls, but not as juicy as juice pearls. A nice in between with less chewing, and equal parts sweet and tart. But the rabbit was my favourite part, a dessert on its own. Tasty coconut jelly you can either try to break down and have with your drink, or coconut jelly you can fish out of your cup and eat as is. Two desserts in one.
Worth noting is that their cups feel smaller than the ones at other bubble tea places, but at the same time I don’t think you need anymore. They were filled to the brim, and then some with the spill proof lid in place.
And while you are waiting for your drink to be made to other, you can also get your fortune told. A Taiwanese tradition that has you picking a red tipped wooden stick out of a collection of 100. Each one is numbered. The number corresponds to a number on a little drawer, from the fixture adjacent. You open the drawer to retrieve your paper fortune. A sheet that you can take with you as a souvenir. Based on the ones my guest and I got, it feels very romantic and relationship driven.
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? – Yes.
I am not a big fan of bubble tea and sweet things, but from what I tasted, and comparing it to others, I definitely like their brown sugar pearl drink the most (haven’t tried many to date). Worth trying if you haven’t already. They are on a different level with their bubble tea gastronomy. Don’t deny your cravings.
XING FU TANG
2675 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5R 5H4