04 June 2011

Beijing Restaurant (大学城)

When my dad was driving me here to my internship, we passed by Beijing At Penn, an American-Chinese restaurant. My dad said, "这里有个大学城!" which translates into "There's a University City here!"
So, for the first time, I shifted my gaze away from the neon "Beijing" at the window, and read the Chinese characters beside it. "大学城". "University City".
Apart from the fact that the name in English and Chinese are inconsistent, the cuisine is also American-Chinese-Taiwan. First, of course it's mixed to tingle "American" taste buds. It's situated at Penn! In America! People don't want authentic Chinese restaurants here! (Authentic = Chinatown, for sure). However, the hint of Taiwan is the bubble tea.

When TBowl opened next door and started selling bubble tea for some $3+, Beijing suddenly decided that they also sold bubble tea, for $2.15 (tax is 15c). This is pretty shocking to me, because in NY, bubble tea is at least $2.50, and if you want a cool flavour, you'd better have at least $3.50 with you! The fact that Beijing sells bubble tea cheaper than Chinatown in NY definitely means that something is up.

Today, I asked the friendly waitstaff for a mango bubble tea.
The best part was that the bubbles were perfectly cooked; they were soft and slimy on the outside (pardon the negative connotation of "slimy", but that's how I would compliment them. Yes, I mean this positively), and chewy and gelatinous in the center. I also liked that there wasn't too much ice.
I suppose the problem with this flavour is that it's not real mango, and there is no real tea. It's mango flavouring, and it tastes a bit like mango, but there is no mango pulp and no tea-like bitterness. The flavour is shallow and extremely sweet. In other words, the bubble tea is just a bubble drink, akin to drinking soda or MinuteMaid pink lemonade with tapioca (hmmm I wonder if anyone's tried sparkling water + real milk tea + tapioca?!!??!?! Sounds amazing!!). As S said (who I met today at the PennMoves sale), there's no real tea taste in Beijing's bubble "tea".

I think that I like this cheaper version of bubble tea though, and as I've yet to try the milk tea and thai tea flavoured ones (along with the other flavours) I can't really judge Beijing. I'm still pretty happy that it was only $2.15!!

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