Most Taiwanese cafes specialize in bubble tea, but I enjoy them for their lunch combos which are always a terrific value and almost all your food groups are covered.
Pearl Castle Cafe is one of the most consistently good places. My dad insists part of its success are the “pretty girls.” I can’t argue the servers are quite attractive and pleasant. But their food is also a reason to keep coming back.
So it felt like déjà vu to step into Best Bubble Cafe (尚品精緻餐廳) where the menu is eerily similar to Pearl Castle Cafe. Turns out some of the staff at Best Bubble used to work at Pearl Castle. I suppose imitation is the best form of flattery? There are two differences though: Best Bubble is slightly cheaper, and there are no pretty girls. I mean, there were only guys serving on the day we went.
Most meals average $8 and come with a bowl of steamed rice, a veggie side dish and dessert. You don’t get to choose the side or dessert; it’s whatever they’ve got on that day.
I usually get some sort of delicious chicken. This was the Szechwan chicken ($8.25), stir-fried with that typical Chinese “brown sauce” (soy, sugar, cooking wine etc.) and some dried red chiles and green onions. It came with sides of bean curd and steamed bok choy.
Dessert was grass jelly with evaporated milk on top. This is one Chinese dessert I can stomach because it’s pretty inoffensive, unlike red bean soup. It’s like Jello but with a much milder flavour.
My dad always orders the chicken ginseng hot pot ($8.65), an herbal broth with chunks of chicken and ginseng. It’s good for your health, he says. And for my husband apparently: “Tell him it’s better than Viagra.” Riiight.
We shared a pot of house special milk tea ($5.25). What made it special? Whipped cream, chocolate sauce and sprinkles! Be warned, Taiwanese milk tea is very sweet, so I usually ask for half-sugar in it.
I’d say Best Bubble comes pretty close to Pearl Castle. It’s a bit quieter but that’s probably because it’s still new.
Best Bubble Cafe, Union Square, 1028-8300 Capstan Way, Richmond, B.C., (604) 821-0277. Open Sunday to Thursday 11:30-1 a.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30-2 a.m.