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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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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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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Snapshots from Taiwan, Part 5

Gonna wrap up my Taiwan travel posts now with a couple more restaurants, and some miscellaneous photos of cutesy things…

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Chun Shui Tang (春水堂) is purportedly the originator of the now-famous bubble milk tea. Apparently this is a topic of hot debate in Taiwan, so I’ll try to stay out of the controversy, haha. But the story goes, the product development manager, Ms. Xiu-Hui Lin, created the combination of adding tapioca pearls to iced assam tea just on a whim at a corporate meeting, and it has become the ever-popular bubble tea drink that we know and love today.

Actually, I don’t really like the tapioca pearls. Haha. I just like milk tea.

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The milk tea from Chun Shui Tang is actually better than most others – with the price to reflect its quality. The thick layer of foam that you see at the top is a result of the tea being vigorously shaken, and the foam provides a pleasantly airy texture to the tea.

We also had some dinner here…

Kung-Fu Noodles

Kung-Fu Noodles

Kung-Fu noodles is basically noodles with minced pork sauce. As you can see, portion sizes in Taiwan area quite small compared with U.S. – but that was great for me because I could try more things, haha.

Oolong-Flavored Tofu Curd and Pork Blood

Oolong-Marinated Tofu Curd and Pork Blood

Turnip Cake

Turnip Cake

Taiwanese-style turnip cake is a little different from the Cantonese-style – there’s usually very little filling in the Taiwanese turnip cakes, whereas the Cantonese ones have Chinese sausage, mushrooms, etc.

Taiwanese Sausage

Taiwanese Sausage

Mmm… grilled Taiwanese sausage is so yummy. …

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Matcha Love

Matcha Love is a Japanese café that opened up in the Mitsuwa grocery store. I first saw the signs for the store about a week before the grand opening, which took place on March 28. Well, I couldn’t pass up anything matcha, so on the second day, I gathered up a few friends to check it out.

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Erm, sorry for that ginormous glare spot… Here’s a better photo of the menu prices:

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The offerings here are quite simple: ice cream, hot tea, hot latte, shakes, and boba tea.

Matcha Shake [$3] and Matcha Ice Cream [$3]

Matcha Shake [$2.80] and Matcha Ice Cream [$3]

The Matcha Shake was actually not a milkshake, like we all thought it would be. …

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[LA] Half & Half Tea House

Half & Half Tea House has pretty much become a sensation, thanks to its “Original Hot Honey Boba and Iced Milk Drinks.” The famous Iced Milk Drink is basically sweetened milk blended with ice and flavored with honey syrup from the boba, or whatever toppings that you choose.

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S and I have visited several Half & Half locations, including the original San Gabriel location, but pictured here is the Pasadena location (called an “Express” store).

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I chose the Iced Milk Drink with coffee jelly and pudding as my toppings, since I like those more than boba.

Iced Milk Drink with Coffee Jelly & Pudding

Iced Milk Drink with Coffee Jelly & Pudding [$3.85]

The pudding here is really special – I think it has an extra “eggy” taste, if that makes sense – and for me, that’s what makes this drink really great and stand out among some of its imitators, including San Diego’s Infini Tea.

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[Irvine] Bon Epi Patisserie & Guppy House

Combining two restaurants in the same Irvine plaza in one post… seems acceptable, doesn’t it? Actually, these were from two separate visits to the Diamond Jamboree plaza (featuring my favorite 85°C Bakery), on our way home from LA, and I insisted both times that we swing by Irvine for dinner/dessert. Haha.

I originally read about Bon Epi Patisserie on CC’s blog, Pink Candles at Ridgemont High (link at end of the post). Before that, I didn’t even notice Bon Epi in the same plaza! Haha. But I definitely had to go and try some of the macarons, after reading about them. I’ve sort of been a macaron fiend lately…

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Bon Epi actually features all sorts of pastries and desserts, but I had already gotten my fill of breads & pastries from both 85°C and a cafe in LA (post coming soon!). So, this would be a macarons-only visit…

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White Chocolate Macadamia, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Chocolate, Pistachio, Earl Grey,White Chocolate Green Tea

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[LA] Beard Papa’s and Ozero: Two Sweets in One Post

Sorry to keep flooding you with posts from my L.A. trip, but I haven’t eaten out much in San Diego since we spent so much money and time eating out in L.A. instead. Haha. I’ll consider this my guide for L.A. for now. Also, I’m going to combine some of the posts since we visited quite a few cafés and dessert shops during our short time there (another reason we’re trying to eat out less… har har).

Anyway, we stumbled upon Beard Papa’s in Little Tokyo Shopping Center by accident. Our destination was a sushi restaurant for lunch, and Beard Papa’s happened to be at the entrance of the same shopping center in Little Tokyo. Normally when S and I visit L.A., we eat in the San Gabriel Valley area (for Taiwanese and/or Cantonese food), so this was my first time in Little Tokyo. I actually really liked the large shopping center, which reminded me a bit of Asian department stores – a food court floor, arcade, grocery store, boutiques… Should have taken some photos. Oops. I was too busy window shopping with my friends.

My friend saw the Beard Papa’s and got super excited. Haha. It’s a Japanese franchise that specializes in selling cream puffs – soft and puffy choux pastry filled with pastry cream. I’ve made my own version at home, but Beard Papa’s makes some of the best cream puffs I’ve had. (Keep in mind, I haven’t been to France. Haha.)

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Filling the choux pastry with fresh pastry cream

You order the type of cream puff you want (see next pic for the menu), then it gets filled – this way, the choux pastry stays crisp instead of getting soggy from the cream.

Beard Papa's Menu

Beard Papa’s Menu

I was really tempted to get multiple puffs, but they don’t taste good if they’re not fresh, so I just ordered a regular vanilla cream puff for S, and one vanilla E’clair for myself. The E’clair is just the cream puff dipped in chocolate.

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M.I. Tea Express

S and I are always on the lookout for new bubble tea shops in San Diego. He has a milk tea obsession – as in, must have at least one cup per day. I used to joke that we should install a milk tea IV drip for him, but he might actually consider that seriously so I stopped talking about this idea…

Anyway, I heard from a friend that a new tea shop opened next to Zion Market, called M.I. Tea Express – so S and I went to try it out. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the storefront. It’s located at the very left side of Zion (if you’re facing the store), next to Taegukgi Korean BBQ. M.I. Tea apparently stands for “Made in Taiwan,” so I was hoping that it would be on par with the good milk tea that I’ve had in Taiwan.

The menu is pretty simple, although the list of “Top 10″ drinks didn’t make any sense to me since there were no descriptions.

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S and I opted to try the classic milk tea and green milk tea, which are each $2.98. It costs an extra 48 cents to upgrade to large and also 48 cents to get the drinks hot. I’m always confused by the upcharge for hot drinks since I always assumed that the drinks are first made hot, and then chilled. Oh well.

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Classic & Green Milk Tea

S took several gulps of his tea before putting it on the table for a photograph. Haha. We really enjoyed the drinks here – the tea flavor is quite prominent. I especially liked the green milk tea – the green tea was so refreshing.

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E & Drink 吃吃喝喝

I’ve seen many of my fellow bloggers post about E & Drink, but I personally had not gotten a chance to visit for a long time – mostly because some of my Taiwanese friends told me that the food there isn’t very good, especially compared with other “individual hot pot” restaurants such as Boiling Point (which we have visited a while ago). But lately, I’ve been hearing mixed reviews, and one of my friends decided to host a group dinner there, so S and I went along to check it out.

I didn’t get photos of the indoors and stuff, but there are plenty of posts from other bloggers (see end of post), who took good pictures! Haha.

There were about 10 different hot pots available. S chose the “Spicy Beef Mini Pot”, which most of our friends recommended. I didn’t want to get the same thing, though, so I picked the “Hong Kong Curry Fish Ball Mini Pot.”

Spicy Beef Mini Pot 家鄉香辣牛肉鍋 [$10.99]

Spicy Beef Mini Pot 家鄉香辣牛肉鍋 [$10.99]

Hong Kong Curry Fish Ball Mini Pot 港式咖哩魚丸鍋 [$10.99]

Hong Kong Curry Fish Ball Mini Pot 港式咖哩魚丸鍋 [$10.99]

I definitely preferred the spicy beef to the curry hot pot. The beef broth was much more flavorful, surprisingly, than the curry-based broth… the curry actually felt somewhat watered down and bland! I did enjoy all of my toppings, though, and they were quite generous with their portions – although some of my friends feel that there wasn’t enough meat in their hot pots compared with Boiling Point. (However, E & Drink is several dollars cheaper than BP.)

Appetizer & condiments

Appetizer & condiments

Pickled cabbage, soy sauce, and hot sauce were served as accompaniments. …

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