Estea Beverage Club – Burnaby, BC

Estea Beverage Club
6401 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC
(604) 438-0186

Finding a good, well balanced menu between food and beverages in a place that specializes more on their liquids is often a problem that I encounter (most izakaya in Japan being the exception).  Here in North America, I experience this phenomena primarily in bars, public houses, as well as in bubble tea shops.  Located virtually across the street from Posh, Burnaby’s Estea Beverage Club has taken on this challenge of jacking up their food options despite being more of a drink-oriented place.  Places like Pearl Fever Tea House come to mind when I think of BBT places that don’t serve any hot food at all.

Alas on this weekday evening when we were seated at one of the four-top tables along the east side of the space, nestled in tightly among many young Asian teenagers making me keenly feel the generation gap, I quickly decided to order one of their fruity slushies sans pearls.  I’m not quite sure if its a trend but lately I’ve discovered that these ice cold drinks taste so much better when I have them inside, rather than when they are scooped up into a plastic to-go cup.  This passionfruit slushie was no exception – sweet and silky smooth but a thicker consistency unlike those terrible liquidy 7-11 Slurpees.  I am quite sure they make this from fresh juices as it had none of that awful powdery consistency hidden inside.  Aside from a pair of horrific head rushes the deep cold of the drink gave me, I really enjoyed it!

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BBT Cafe – Vancouver, BC

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BBT Cafe
5979 West Boulevard
Vancouver, BC

My first planned trip to this spot in Kerrisdale was supposed to be about two months back, but that got changed at the last minute by the group I was going out with on that particular night.  I’d totally forgotten about it since, but decided to check it out recently since its relatively close to where I live.  Truth be told, I wasn’t really hungry and in fact with the continuing heat wave in the city, I had a craving for some sort of Asian shaved ice dessert – which I had heard BBT Cafe did serve.

Finding it was easy enough as I’m familiar with the neighborhood, and even managed to find a parking spot on the road directly in front! It was around 6:30pm so had expected a much bigger crowd inside (the space is kind of split into two separate rooms) but it was not so busy.  There were a handful of people popping in and out while I was there, to get their pickup orders (the restaurant’s phone did seem to be ringing quite frequently).  There seemed to be three ladies as front staff, and one saw me as I was coming in so I got seated right away.

Faced with the menu, I had a change of heart and decided to have an actual meal – no big surprise to those that know me.  I will argue that its all for the readers of Foodosophy that I put aside my dessert desires and chose to sample what seemed to be a popular item, the Chicken Nuggets with Rice ($6.95).  I purposely avoided anything from the noodle section as well, thinking it couldn’t be all that great here.  It came out on what seemed to be one of those mid-sized cheap black sushi platters, and the meal itself was contained in a separate half sized, bento box-like tray and a bowl of steamed rice.  What I was hoping for with the chunks of chicken, that were seasoned nicely (with what seemed to be Chinese Five Spice), and crispy on the outside (due to a heavy dose of corn starch) but still tender and soft on the inside, was indeed delivered.  The side compartments were filled with an odd tomato and scrambled egg mixture that was lukewarm and not too flavorful, as well as some previously frozen corn kernels and a bitter-tasting green vegetable that I was unable to identify, and which I could not stomach at all.  The rice was disappointing too, was much too dry for my liking – almost seemed like it was fried rice!

I finished off my meal with a Passionfruit Slush ($4.25), after seeing that the shaved ice dessert was made for two.  I’d had a bubble tea on the weekend downtown so passed on that section of the menu, and was glad that I did as the slush was fantastic, rich fruity flavors, nice and creamy texture (no big chunks of ice at all).  I think that if I was to ever come back, I’d skip out on the food course and hit straight on the drinks/desserts, as that’s what this place seemed to do best, and the environment was indeed better suited to this I felt.  Service was indifferent and spotty – seems to be a common occurance with me of late – and the time I asked one of the girls to bring me a glass of water, she turned to me and said “I’m busy“, and proceeded to walk out the door but not before turning around to one of her colleagues and making a hand motion towards me (I had my back to the other girl, so no idea what her reaction was to all this).  That surprised me, as I’d never heard that reply before from a wait staff in a cafe or restaurant.  I realize its more of a casual atmosphere here, but geez, were we talking on the phone!?!?

Do yourself a favor if you decide to check this place out… call ahead, make an order (preferably a drink/dessert) and just come pick it up and head out on your way…  ’cause we all know how busy we all are…

Bbt Cafe on Urbanspoon