About two weeks, Coco Fresh Tea & Juice opened its storefront on 45th, the second US store for this Taiwanese chain. According to commenter “hungryteresa” the chain is considered one of the better chains in Taiwan- meaning its a big score for Midtown East. I managed to stop by last week to check it out.
Archive for 'Bubble Tea'
Couple of weeks ago there was a question in the forum about good bubble tea in Midtown. The other day I was walking by Shanghai Mong, a K-Town Korean/Chinese spot known for their jjajangmyeon (on 32nd btw. B’way+5th), and saw that they have bubble tea! They’re known as one of the go-to Korean-Chinese restaurants around k-town. Many are fans of their jjajangmyeon. What I never noticed was that they had bubble tea. So I investigated for the sake of possibly finding some good bubble tea. After inquiring about it, I almost choked at the price, $4.90. Seriously that’s gotta be one of the most expensive bubble tea prices that’s out there. They got the usual flavors like coconut and taro and some not-so-usual ones like blueberry and thai.
As a test for what they have to offer, I picked taro because it’s easy to measure this one against the one inside of the souvenir store. What came out was not what one usually consider bubble tea but it was more like bubble slush (a taro frappuchino with tapioca balls, if you will.) The taro flavor was strong. This option is enjoyable and refreshing for the hotter days of the summer The price is the main drawback but on the whole, it was still pretty good. (And not a bad choice in this weather…)
Shanghai Mong, 30 W 32nd St (btw. B’way+5th), 212-629-6450
If I say 5th Avenue Empire Cafe… you say… wha?! Exactly. Where is that? You could walk up and down fifth avenue and never see this restaurant. They have a banner outside on the sidewalk but it fails to mention the name. What’s more strange and awesome about this place (and certainly has contributed to its anonymity) is that it’s in a place where most Midtown Lunchers would never visit… a touristy souvenir shop. Beneath the shadows of the Empire State Building on 5th Ave btw. 33+34th, sits a little souvenir store that would be like any other… except they have a restaurant on the second floor. Of course, it’s a Chinese restaurant. With bubble tea! And General Tso’s chicken…
Beard Papa fans shouldn’t be too upset about Friday’s news that they’re leaving Cafe Zaiya (on 41st btw. Mad+5th). Not only is Beard Papa going to look for another Midtown location to sell their cream puffs, but Cafe Zaiya will be converting the extra space into a dessert/drink bar. From the GM of Cafe Zaiya:
“We will be creating a drink/dessert bar as time comes. A big store like us and all we serve is hot coffee/tea? We just got a nice state of the art machine as well. Our plan is, sometime in June, to offer a full service drink bar w/ a japanese touch just like the one down the street in the bookstore.”
Oh… and that includes bubble tea.
I’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
We can add one more location to the list of bubble tea places in Midtown that got put in the comments of this Profile last month. Galaxy 2.0 has opened up on 38th St. btw. 5+6th serving frozen yogurt, smoothies, and a slushy version of bubble tea out of of a takeout window. At $3.50 for a small, it’s slightly more expensive than a few of the other Midtown options, but they blend it with ice, making it pretty refreshing for the summertime. I had Taro, which was prety tasty, but on second look I think I may have to try the “cookies and cream.” They also serve a version of Pinkberry’ish frozen yogurt, with the green tea option being replaced by blueberry (???). They didn’t have cap’n crunch as a topping, so I’ll be sticking with Red Mango- thanks.
More photos, after the jump… Read more »
One of my favorite (in theory) lunch places, that I don’t get to nearly enough, is the Lunch Box Buffet on 34th St. btw. 7+8th. It’s been mentioned a few times in the comments, and I just never have gotten around to writing about it. A fairly simple concept, it combines two of my favorite things- value and cheap chinese food. 5 items for $5. How does it get any better than that? Well, I’ll tell you how: they’ve added a Fay Da Bakery to the front of the location.
Lunch Box Buffet isn’t necessarily the best cheap chinese food in the area, but it has got the largest selection, the best pricing concept (especially for variety), and it’s much less intimidating than the far more adventurous Ying Du (on 38th btw. 7+8th.) All the food is labeled, and the’ve got plenty of non-chinese items, like the very popular fried chicken. Now with the addition of Fay Da it becomes much easier to ignore the cheapness of the Chinese food… you can always follow it up with a delicious custard bun. Read more »
Awhile back I posted a “Where to get Bubble Tea” Ask Midtown Lunch post, which yielded a few responses: Dishes (which is supposedly terrible) and Hing Won on 48th btw. 5+6th, which is not that bad. You can get in Koreatown on 32nd btw. B’way and 5th, but for those of us working in the heart of Midtown Lunch, there’s not much. I did however noticed the other day that Ying Du on 38th btw. 7+8th (formerly the 38th St. Restaurant and Bakery) is now serving bubble tea. For $2.50 you get a decent size cup, and the regular black tea version I had was pretty darn good (especially in the ridiculous heat,) and definitely better than Hing Won.
If you’re heading over to Go Go Curry today for your 3 free toppings coupons, you might want to check it out- it’s right next door. Anybody else have a bubble tea suggestion? Feel free to put it in the comments below…
“There used to be a bubble tea café right in the middle of Times Sq., but it appears to have been replaced by one of those terrible Tasti D-lite (fake) ice cream places. Dishes offers exactly one type of bubble tea, “fruit-flavored jasmine tea”, with one type of tapioca and three choices of fruit jelly. They don’t even offer the basic milk pearl tea. At $3.50 it’s a ripoff and a poor attempt at trendifying a delicious commodity item. It’s the perfect remedy for Starbucks, especially in the summer–the tea tastes better, it’s healthier and cheaper, and refreshingly cool! Where has all the midtown bubble tea gone?”
– Lane R.
The only Bubble Tea I’ve seen remotely close to Midtown is on 9th Ave. btw. 47+48th @ Pearl on the Sushi. But technically, 9th ave. is out of ML range… anybody got a bubble tea selection for Lane, more centrally located? Post it as a comment below.
And as always, if you’ve got a question, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org If I know the answer, I’ll let you know- or post it for the Midtown Lunch readers to answer.