Well Tea & Asian Cuisine
5728 University Blvd
(604) 222 0016
Its a well documented fact that finding good eats in certain places is always a challenge. Airports. Train stations. University campuses. Perhaps its the transient nature of these places, full of people on the move and just wanting a quick bite as they come and go.
Well at the University of British Columbia (UBC) this stereotype definitely holds true…
The enclave that is the University Village is an interesting microcosm of the perceived general populace of students who attend this institution. Set in this two block area, the overwhelming majority of retail space is taken up by places to eat… with many of them are ethnic.
There’s been a lot of turnover in recent years as well, be it swaps in ownership/management (e.g. Suga Sushi), or just rapid closures (e.g. some taco shop lasted mere months before shutting down). Coincidentally, this a fore mentioned collapsed fast food joint is now the site of the subject of this post, Well Tea & Asian Cuisine.
Located not too far away is the Pearl Fever Tea House. So it was a little bit surprising to find yet another bubble tea serving place pop up. But given the large Asian student body at UBC, I suppose they have the right demographic in dense concentration to survive the dangers of potential “bubble tea cannibalization”.
This outlet of Well Tea also has a place to eat in, its in an area accessible by a steep climb up some stairs to the second floor. I had no idea there was space up there, as I don’t think the previous tenant had seating up there. Regardless, with my intention to only get something to go, I only glanced up at the alleyway leading to the seating area, and can only guess at how many people can actually fit up there.
I’m not sure if you are like me, but do you ever find some menu’s really daunting? And I’m not talking in terms of not knowing the cuisine. Its the sheer size and volume of choices, especially in places like run-of-the-mill Chinese restaurants, or in this case, bubble tea shops. I often wonder how one can come up with twenty-odd dishes that are listed under generic headings such as beef, chicken, pork, rice and noodles. The same goes for tea.
Its almost like looking at the departures screen at YVR.
After going through my fair share of bubble teas this past year, which was preceded by very little exposure or interest to this drink, I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of them taste the same to me. Perhaps this is because I often sample the same base tea, and don’t get creative with the extras beyond the pearls. In fact, the pearls are likely the only true distinguishable thing (too soft, too hard, too chalky, etc.) between one place and another for me. It doesn’t mean I don’t like bubble tea. But perhaps I should stop drinking it for a while. The offering at Well Tea is nothing extraordinary, and if I had to choose, I’d go with Pearl Fever.
Take-away orders are available, and upon opening the bag once I was back home, I smiled when I saw these distinctive looking packages containing my meal. Not the usual Styrofoam containers you get at other fast food places, or as boxes to take home any left overs at restaurants, these had a clear Asian motif. Not knowing what they say, I can only guess they are a generic brand of packaging, but well suited to the food that can be had here.
To further explain my earlier sentence, it seemed that a lot of the quick snack food items come with a trio of vegetable-based sides. These would be slotted neatly into the separated compartments built into the container. On this day, it was a very bitter tasting, gai-lan (Chinese broccoli), a spicy miso-flavored eggplant mixture, and lastly a strange cabbage kimchi and bean sprout pairing. Suffice it to say, none of these were any good in my humble opinion.
As you can see, my main target for my lunch was the fried chicken “nuggets”. Flavored Taiwanese-style, they had that fragrant scent that I enjoy with this kind of deep fried chicken. The chunks of meat were crispy on the exterior but still very juicy inside. I won’t go as far to say I like them over the chicken karaage at Suga located upstairs, but not bad for the low price.
I’ll take Well Tea for what it is, another good, quick and easy place to grab a cheap meal when I’m in a hurry or just passing by. Certainly more interesting than the neighboring McDonald’s, but for your average Canadian student, I imagine the golden arches will still have them lined out the door…