Sharetea

Sharetea is a Taiwanese bubble tea franchise that recently opened in San Diego. I’ve had their milk tea in Berkeley before and was excited to hear that they were expanding to SD!

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Our first visit was on Grand Opening Day, June 1. The special promo was buy 1 get 1 free – but it wasn’t until we were close to the front of the line that we learned the free drink was limited to the classic milk tea with tapioca. I didn’t mind too much, but I can imagine some customers feeling misled.

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This mural looks like it was done by the same artist as the one from Infini Tea. There is a little tapioca pearl dressed in the cultural outfit for each of the countries where there’s a Sharetea franchise!

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My favorite was obviously the koala tapioca pearl, representing Australia.

On our first visit, we tried the Okinawa (brown sugar) milk tea, which was quite tasty. But the wait time for the drinks was over half an hour – just for milk tea! It didn’t seem like their line was very optimized, and a bit chaotic. But it was grand opening day, so I sort of expected it.

We returned about a week later, around 10pm on a Saturday night.

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[Costa Mesa] Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung, a popular Taiwanese chain that specializes in soup dumplings (aka xiaolongbao, or XLB), opened its first Orange County location last year inside South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. S and I are huge fans of DTF, and we actually visited shortly after their grand opening last year (complete with a 3-hour wait for a table, yikes!). Unfortunately, the photos from the initial visit got lost, and even though we’ve been back several times already on various LA/OC trips, I’ve only gotten around to posting about it now…

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As I just mentioned, when DTF first opened in the mall, the waits were 3-4 hours for dinner (on weekends, at least). However, on our most recent visit, the wait times were much more reasonable – about 30 minutes for Saturday dinner. Luckily, it’s located in the mall so we always do some shopping while waiting, and the restaurant will send you a text message when your table is almost ready.

The restaurant is quite modern and even has a full bar. FYI, if you don’t want to wait for a text, you can also wait for a table in the bar area which supposedly has a shorter waiting period. However, most bar area tables seat just two.

Cucumber Salad [$4.3]

Cucumber Salad [$4.3]

The cucumber salad is one of our favorite appetizers – crisp and refreshing, the cukes are served with a sesame oil/soy sauce mix.

Pork Xiaolongbao [$9.5]

Pork Xiaolongbao [$9.5]

Of course, the standard pork XLB (S doesn’t eat shrimp, and I’m allergic to crab, so no seafood allowed in our XLB). One thing that has always impressed me about DTF is their consistent quality. The chain is famous for their precision, of course, in that the wrapper is the same thickness, the filling is the same, and every dumpling has exactly 18 pleats. Somehow, they manage to keep the wrappers thin and elastic, without breaking (usually). The XLB here were really tasty as always, and I love the juicy, flavorful pork filling, especially when mixed with a bit of black vinegar and ginger slice.

Rice & Pork Shao Mai [$10]

Rice & Pork Shao Mai [$10]

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[Irvine] Four Sea Restaurant & Taiwan Popcorn Chicken

S and I recently took a “food trip” to Irvine/LA with our friend A. We first stopped by a couple of places in Irvine – Four Sea Restaurant, which serves up authentic Taiwanese breakfast. I’ve posted on it before, and was really excited to visit again.

米漿 - Rice Peanut Milk [$2.40]

米漿 – Rice Peanut Milk [$2.40]

My number one reason for loving this place? The rice peanut milk, which is made by grinding pre-soaked rice and roasted peanuts into a powder and mixing with water. The end result is a smooth, creamy, nutty drink. If you’ve never had rice peanut milk before, definitely try it when you get a chance.

鹹豆漿 - Salty Soy Milk [$2.50]

鹹豆漿 – Salty Soy Milk [$2.50]

A ordered the salty soy milk, which is soy milk with you tiao (fried cruller), chives, and chili oil. I’m not a huge fan of salty soy milk, but she really enjoyed it.

蘿蔔糕加蛋 - Fried Daikon Cake w/ Egg [$5]

蘿蔔糕加蛋 – Fried Daikon Cake w/ Egg [$5]

The fried daikon cake (I think it’s actually usually called turnip cake) is S’s favorite item here – the turnip cake has a nice and crispy exterior and really flavorful. All of us really enjoyed it here. Unlike the Cantonese version of this dish, Taiwanese turnip cake doesn’t usually have fillings, but that’s the way he likes it.

蛋餅加肉鬆 - Egg Crepe w/ Pork Sung [$4.5]

蛋餅加肉鬆 – Egg Crêpe w/ Pork Sung [$4.5]

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Iceskimo

Iceskimo started out as a pop-up shop serving snow-shaved ice, or snowflake ice. I’ve visited the pop-up shop several times last summer, and they finally opened a brick-and-mortar store in October last year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t around for the grand opening weekend, and after that I just was never in the mood for a cold treat – until one recent day when the craving for snow ice suddenly kicked in, and I finally got to check out the store!

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Too bad it was already dark out when I went… the building is painted a really lovely shade of blue, and the little round logo is quite adorable.

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They’ve changed things up a bit – now, you can “build your own snow” – basically pick a flavor, and add any amount of toppings from the toppings bar. Most of them are what you’d see at a frozen yogurt shop, actually.

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Trinitea

S and I are always on the lookout for new milk tea shops, so when we read about Trinitea on Kirbie and CC‘s blogs, we decided to try it out. Although we’re rarely in Hillcrest, we found an opportunity to visit after having lunch at Streetcar Merchants.

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The place was quite spacious, with the ordering counter tucked away in a corner and lots of tables. I think they’re trying to make it into a cool “hang out” spot, with board games and wifi and whatnot.

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Close-up of the menu. They have pretty much the “standard” milk tea offerings as well as a bunch of coffees, blended drinks, and flavored teas. …

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85C Bakery Cafe

A couple of months ago, the famous Taiwanese bakery 85°C Bakery Cafe opened a location in San Diego! I’ve visited the Irvine location (the first store in the U.S.) several times in the past, and I was really excited to finally see a store here in SD.

85C Bakery Cafe

85°C is located near the intersection of Balboa Ave & Genessee Ave, in the Vons shopping center. There wasn’t much of a line during our first couple of visits, although I’ve read accounts of really long waits to get inside!

I wanted to get some pictures of the interior, but it was really crowded which didn’t make for good photos. I’ll just share some pics of my haul from my first 2 visits:

Egg Tart

Egg Tart

Coconut Custard Roll

Coconut Custard Roll

These are two of S and my go-to’s – the egg tarts from 85°C are better than all other ones I’ve had in various bakeries around San Diego (Paris Baguette, Pangea, 99 Ranch Market). The shells are flaky, and the center is a smooth and rich custard. S also really loves the coconut custard roll cake, simply because he’s a fan of vanilla and coconut.

Pork Sung Bun

Pork Sung Bun

Cheese Dog

Cheese Dog Bun

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[Irvine] Four Sea Restaurant

I’ve been in Chicago for the past week, so the posting schedule got a little messed up – sorry! The trip was super fun, and I’ll definitely be sharing pictures from some of the amazing meals that I had in the coming weeks! My friend also suggested a fun new series to start for this blog, so please stay tuned as I’m working to get that going!

Today’s post is from Labor Day weekend, when S and I made a day trip to Irvine. The main purpose of the trip was to visit the newly-opened Din Tai Fung in South Coast Plaza, but of course we also had to fit in at least one more meal. After much research and deliberation, I chose Four Sea Restaurant, which serves up an authentic Taiwanese breakfast. I love breakfast in Taiwan – it’s my favorite meal of the day there – so I was quite excited, but also a little bit nervous because I’ve been pretty disappointed by Taiwanese breakfast food in the US.

Four Sea Restaurant 

Four Sea has several locations, one in Irvine and three in LA (so not fair.. why not San Diego?). My friend told me that the Irvine restaurant is a lot less crowded than the LA ones.

Four Sea Restaurant 

The place is open everyday from 6:30AM to 3:30PM, so they only serve breakfast food here! We arrived close to 1PM, and the place was quite empty already. In fact, some of the staff had already started mopping the floor in one part of the restaurant… It was a little weird.

Anyway, as you walk in, there’s a display case of house-made pastries to greet you. I couldn’t resist and bought a Black Sesame with Egg Yolk pastry, which I enjoyed later at home:

Sesame Egg Yolk Pastry 

Sesame Egg Yolk Pastry

Sesame Egg Yolk Pastry [$2.90]

The pastry was nice and flaky, and the sesame paste inside was pretty intense. I did think that it could be a bit sweeter, though – it would have made better contrast to the salted egg yolk.

Anyway, back to the restaurant…

Marinated Beef Sandwich (牛肉醬肉燒餅)

Marinated Beef Sandwich (牛肉醬肉燒餅) [$4.20]

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Iceskimo Revisit

I posted about Iceskimo, a summer snow-shaved ice pop-up shop, just a couple of weeks ago, and S and I have already made several revisits because we really loved the snow ice there! 

We visited with a couple of friends so that we can try more flavors… haha. Yes, I will steal your food if it looks good.

Matcha Green Tea

Matcha Green Tea: green tea snow, slow-cooked red bean, mini mochi, condensed milk [$4.75]

My matcha-loving friend gravitated towards this one immediately, and I had a few bites. I liked the snow a lot! The green tea flavor was pretty strong, and the texture was nice and fluffy. As for the toppings, I thought the mini mochi was not bad, but I’m not a fan of red bean so I mostly stayed away from them. There was a good amount of condensed milk to sweeten the snow just the right amount.

Summer Love

Summer Love: original snow, fresh strawberries and mangoes, condensed milk [$4.75]

“Summer Love” refers to the harmony between strawberries and mangoes, both of which are in season in the summer! Another friend chose this one, and I loved the flavor of the original snow (milk flavored). Both of the fruits are quite fresh and sweet, and I liked this one a lot as well. It made me want to try their “seasonal special”, mango snow ice with fresh mangoes….

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It’s Boba Time

It’s Boba Time is a milk tea/drinks franchise shop that recently opened up on Convoy, replacing the old Yoshinoya spot. Due to S’s deep and undying love for all things milk tea, we had to go check it out.

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The interior was quite cute – one of the walls was a painted mural, and there were pictures and decorations hanging everywhere.

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There’s also an explanatory banner for those who aren’t familiar with boba!

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Iceskimo (Grand Opening)

Iceskimo is a summer pop-up store in San Diego, serving snow-shaved ice! I was ultra-excited because I love snow-shaved ice, and my friend said that she visited during the soft opening and really liked it. I saw that there was a grand opening event two Saturdays ago, with free snow ice in the afternoon, so of course I had to go check it out!

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True to the pop-up concept, Iceskimo is located inside Pangea Bakery. It is open for the summer (July-September), Fridays through Sundays only.

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The shop is set up to the right of the cake display case. Pangea actually had quite a bit of space there, I wasn’t sure what was there before they opened up Iceskimo.

Here’s their menu of all the shaved snow flavors:

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I was really intrigued by their “Bubble Tea Deconstructed” snow, which had oolong milk tea snow with honey boba and condensed milk. But, the two free snows being offered that day for the grand opening special were the Fresh Strawberry and the Cookie Monster.

Fresh Strawberry Snow

Strawberry Shortcake: strawberry snow, fresh strawberries, house-made shortcake

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