Grand Sichuan’s Bubble Tea is Garbage

Grand Sichuan
Grand SichuanI’ve never really met a bubble tea I didn’t like.  I’ve heard rumors of bad bubble teas;  gross powder mixtures, hard tapioca pearls, etc.  But I don’t think I’ve ever had one. There are varying degrees of good and great, but never terrible… until yesterday when I stopped at Grand Sichuan on Lex. btw. 33rd+34th.  Just inside the ML boundaries, it’s unclear whether there is a relation to the famous chain of Grand Sichuan’s (I’m inclined to say no.)  Either way, I thought I’d be safe getting one of their bubble teas.  And that’s when my streak ended.   The tapioca pearls were rock hard in the middle, dry, and they had a strong taste of prunes or raisins or something.  Disgusting.  2 sips later I threw it away, a once in a lifetime occurance (being fat *and* cheap means I never throw away food.)  I don’t normally write about stuff like this, but it was so bad I don’t want anyone to make the same mistake I did.

However, I will be back for one of their lunch specials. $6.25 and it comes with soup, egg roll, or soda.  Not bad at all. So cheap, and I’m sure their double cooked pork or Ma Po Tofu is better than their bubble tea.  Anybody been before?  Thoughts?

Grand Sichuan NY, 227 Lexington Ave. (btw. 33+34th) 212-679-9770


  • What exactly does Bubble Tea taste like? I’ve been intrigued… but haven’t taken the dive…. It looks tempting… But, I’m cheap too, and would hate to buy something and not like it and throw it away… lol and also, where is THE BEST, CAN’T MISS, GOTTA HAVE IT IF IT’S YOUR FIRST TIME Bubble Tea??

  • where is the best place to get a bubble tea? any recommendations?

  • This restaurant is NOT related to the GS mini chain and the food is pretty much on par with the bubble tea you had. Oily, greasy and souless.

  • @ JDM – That’s good to know. Cross that one off my list…

    As for the best, I can’t say for sure. I’ve had a few in Midtown and they’ve all been decent until this one. I guess Fay Da Bakery on 34th btw. 7+8th is probably the best.

    Here’s a link to all the Bubble Teas in Midtown I’ve tried…

  • A few months back I wanted to try Grand Sichuan, and like a jerk I went to this place. Not so good. Which of the various Grand Sichuans is the one to visit? Thanks.

  • If it’s your first time trying bubble tea, I would reccomend Ten Ren on Mott St in Chinatown.

  • and if it’s your first time at fight club, you have to fight.

  • I believe this GS location is supposed to be very authentic for their hot pot dishes……..

  • @Lou: Don’t bother trying bubble tea for the first time in Midtown. Go to Saints’ Alps Tea by NYU. Totally worth the trip.

    A regular bubble tea is:
    Black Tea
    Milk OR Creamer
    Tapioca Balls

    It’s served hot or cold and it’s a good sweet drink. Nice little pick me up, if you will. You can get it with a black tea or green tea base in a variety of flavors from almond, taro, mango, etc.

    Technically it’s Pearl Milk Tea and not Bubble Tea. The use of the word “pearl” refers to the tapioca balls. In Chinese (Cantonese) it’s called Jun Gee Nyai Cha. In Taiwan, they call it Gun Gee Nyai Cha or slang, they call it “Booba Cha”. Bubbles is the Romanization of “booba” which means…nipples. Use your own imagination.

    Go to Saints Alps Teahouse on 3rd Ave. It’s closer than Chinatown and if you have a long lunch, you can get your bubble tea fix AND some good cheap Taiwanese grub.

    Saints Alps Tea House
    39 3rd Ave
    New York, NY 10003
    (212) 598-1890

  • Ten Ren has the best bubble tea cuz their teas taste the best and I find that they consistently cook the tapioca just right (not mushy on the outside and not rock hard in the center).

  • the bubble tea from Fayda Bakery on 34th Street rocks midtown… as long as you ask the girls to use GREEN TEA and NOT water (because sometimes they think the non-asian customers dislike the green tea base.) they also serve fruit slushies and fresh fruit smoothies with pearls for a few bucks more.

  • @JDM: I think you are mistaken about it not being related to the chain. I could be wrong. The following sites indicate otherwise. Why do you have reason to believe that it is not related?

    And I had heard it was really good… :(

    I hope it isn’t true. Or rather reported consistently as being awful.

  • ten ren is good but i gotta say that the best i’ve had in ny is at tea kettle on astor place. Blows ten ren out of the water, better tapioca balls, not as cloyingly sweet, really good tea flavor. There’s another place further down mott that’s really good too. I think it’s called green something… it is on the west side and has high stools with low tables.

  • I think Ten Ren is good. The thing about bubble tea is that you can always be pleasantly surprised. Really the only difficult part is to cook those tapioca balls correctly (and it’s much harder than it sounds… it can be hard, gummy, pasty, under-cooked… etc). I prefer mine with the ice slushie during the summer months. Much cooler.

  • So it can be served cold… that’s mainly how i’d want it… not a fan of hot drinks. Is it any better or worse served cold?

  • @Lou: Bubble tea is best served cold. Ten Ren is a more upscale teahouse that’s from Taiwan. Should you be interested in Chinese tea in general, this is a good starting point. For your first bubble tea, definitely try Saints’ Alps for the whole experience. Go in, pick a table (they’re imitation of the old-school style tables and stools you’ll find in teahouse over China). Read the menu, pick a (cold) bubble tea and have a snack.

    The signs of bad bubble tea?
    -Under/overcooked bubbles
    -Watery tea
    -Overly sweetened
    -Too much milk/too little milk (you want a nice balance between the milk and the tea)
    -Chemical aftertaste from the powdered flavoring they use…bleah

    I’m still looking for a teahouse that doesn’t use powder for the taro flavor. Guess I gotta go back to the motherland for that one :(

    Too bad they don’t have a place that serves a good Cuban AND bubble tea. Hmm…

  • that place is awful. i ordered a quart of wonton soup from there once and when i opened it up, it had a big black hair floating on the top. blech.

  • This place is not related to the other GS locations. The food is greasy and tasteless and the lunch special portions are laughable.

  • I have to put my 2 cents in for Quickly, but they only operate in Queens (Flushing, and Elmhurst) In Manhattan, just about any chinese bakery sells bubble tea and they are all basically on par. For those “fancy” tea houses like ten ren, saint alps etc, I recommend caution when experimenting with their more exotic sounding drinks. 9 times out of ten, it’s just a powder, and it’s gross, and never, never get what they call a “milk shake”. Look behind the counter, if you don’t see a softserve machine, You’re not getting a milk shake.

  • Well I stand corrected.

    I keep finding articles and posts saying they spoke to the other locations and they say it is one of theirs. NY Magazine, AOL Cityguide, Zagat, NY Press and others say it is part of the chain.

    But the website of the official chain does not include that location as one of theirs. Weird.

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