S and I both had to work on Thanksgiving Day this year, so we decided to keep everything simple and didn’t plan for big dinners or parties. One of our good friends, who also had no holiday plans, came to hang out with us, and we decided to go to Tea Station for dinner. Why? Because they were open, their TV is often tuned to ESPN or a sports channel, and we wanted to watch football. (The Jets lost so miserably.. why was this even a Thanksgiving Day game?!?)
Anyway, sports aside, I realized that I hadn’t done a post on Tea Station yet even though I’ve visited several times. Usually we just stop by for milk tea, but sometimes we crave Taiwanese food and come for dinner, too.
We decided to split a fried crispy chicken as an appetizer. This is one of my favorite Taiwanese snacks/street eats – popcorn-style chicken with fried Thai basil leaves, dusted with chili powder.
Tea Station’s version is not bad – the seasoning was flavorful (though not as spicy as it looks from the photo). I wish there were fried fresh Thai basil leaves, though – sometimes I enjoy that more than the fried chicken itself.
A typical dinner set comprises of the entree (in my case, the pork knuckle), rice, soup, and three cold side dishes. S and I pretty much order the same things every time: I get the pork knuckles, and he orders the braised pork with bamboo shoots (茶香筍絲扣肉). The sauce for both dishes tastes about the same: a very standard soy sauce-based braise, with some hints of tea.
The rest of the dinner set wasn’t very impressive. The soup was a flavorless vegetable soup – we could pick out a few strands of mung bean sprouts. Sometimes they’ll have miso or radish soup, which is much better. The cold dishes were two types of pickled cabbage, and spiced potatoes.
Anyway, the real reason we like Tea Station is…
The milk tea. S and I agree that Tea Station serves the best milk tea in San Diego – the flavor of the tea is much more apparent than in other milk tea joints. Each month they have three or four special drinks for $3.99, and I chose the hot rose milk tea, since it was a chilly day, and I love rose-flavored tea. I love how they serve it to you in a super cute small tea set. (Pro-tip: Tea Station’s milk teas tend to be on the sweet side, so I’d recommend half sugar.)
Anyway, S and I have been regulars at Tea Station, despite protests that it’s a rip-off. It’s hard to give up such good milk tea! It’s a little late, but I do hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and are looking forward to more holidays (quickly) approaching!
Tea Station (Kearny Mesa location)
7315 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA