Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tapioca Cafe 三年一班

I am the worst person to be with in Richmond for a late night dinner. Why? Because I do not want to eat Chinese or Shanghainese food anymore. Also, I think it is silly to visit Cactus Club if I am in Richmond. Plus, I did not want hot pot either so that limited my options quite a bit. I was however, craving for Taiwanese beef noodles (I am pretty much a poser and can only eat 10 strands)! After circling Richmond for an hour, literally, I made up my mind and decided to try Tapioca Cafe. I only know of Tapioca Cafe because I used to see their "soft opening" and "grand opening" signs when I headed next door to Richmond Sushi. The restaurant's interior has a classroom style layout and looks cute. The only complaint would be the tables. Every table has a bar which prevents people from crossing their legs.


FRESH MANGO JUICE ($4.99) AND WATERMELON SLUSH ($4.99). The mango juice tastes bland and watered down, more mangos and less ice would have tasted better. Or, a smaller cup with less ice used. For the watermelon juice, it tastes well blended, tasty and not watered down (no additional sugar was added too!).

GINSENG CHICKEN SOUP ($5.95). Really? Ginseng chicken soup at a bubble tea cafe? What a bonus! The ginseng chicken soup is served in a clay pot and heated on a coal burner bowl. The coal burns out a bit after five minutes I think. The ginseng soup has a good amount of herbal ingredients such as ginseng root, logan, wolf berry and date. Also, the broth has a rich flavourful homestyle herbal taste and tastes quite good. For the price, it is a steal!

DEEP FRIED FISH CAKE ($5.25). The fish cake is sliced, deep fried and then seasoned with salt and chinese pepper. Fish cake in general is nothing special to me or tasty, however, these taste flavourful because of the strong peppery salty taste, which is also the same seasoning used for Taiwanese popcorn chicken, that I like.

CHINESE HERB WITH LAMB HOTPOT, VERMICELLI AND SATAY SAUCE ($9.50). The hotpot is served in a nabe which is heated under a coal burner, like the ginseng soup. The coal lasted a bit longer on this one, roughly around ten to fifteen minutes? The broth tastes clear as well as light and super healthy, with a couple of herbal ingredients such as wolf berry and date. For the choice of meat, the lamb tastes overcooked as well as chewy since it was served in the hotpot rather than uncooked on the side. Other than the slices of lamb, the rest of the items in the hotpot are fish balls, fish tofu, chinese cabbage, enoki mushroom, oyster mushroom and corn. Satay sauce and vermicelli is also provided.

SLICED PORK AND CABBAGE IN SPICY SAUCE WITH RICE, CABBAGE, CARROTS AND EGGPLANT ($8.95). The slices of pork tastes chewy which could have been prevented if the slices were more thin. The pork has a nice medium spicy taste and the green onion, red pepper, green pepper and cabbage, tastes fresh without tasting over or undercooked. The accompanying sides include diced eggplant, sliced carrot and shredded cabbage. The eggplant is served warm (which is a nice surprise since usually the sides are served cold at most of the other bubble tea joints that I have been to) and tastes light as well as healthy. After around twenty minutes, we wondered where the last two dishes were. The orders must have been overlooked since the waitress was surprised when we asked, responding as if it was her first time hearing the order.

PEPPER CRISPY CHICKEN ($5.75). The chicken tastes meaty and none of the pieces are pure non-edible fat which has happened at other places. Although the chicken is perfectly deep fried and tastes tender, it is missing the peppery salty taste! The only taste of seasoning seems to be white pepper, therefore tasting quite bland and not a proper Taiwanese popcorn chicken dish. I do find it a bit odd that the fish cake had the proper seasoning but not the chicken. 

HOUSE SPECIAL STEWED BEEF WITH NOODLE IN SOUP ($7.25). Unfortunately the broth tastes extremely spicy to the point that once the vegetable touches the tip of a tongue, it already tastes overly spicy. However, it is my fault since I asked for the beef noodles to taste spicy… but I never thought they would taste overly spicy, plus, I have a high tolerance for spiciness too. Other than the hard to eat noodles which soaked up the extremely spicy tasting broth, the beef brisket tastes quite hard and very last minute, not stewed at all.

The bill comes in a cute pencil case.
- Tasty herbal soup
- Open late night
- Reasonable prices
- Approachable and friendly staff

- Peppery crispy chicken could have had the proper peppery salty seasoning
- Beef brisket tastes really hard
- Forgotten dishes

- I may come back to try the beef noodles properly next time

Food: 2.5/5
Service: 3/5

Tapioca Cafe 三年一班 on Urbanspoon

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