Matcha bubble tea at Boba Jam


Hello Kitty. Dressing up as characters from Manga cartoons. Fluorescent drinks with lumps of goo? There are some things so exotic and quintessentially Oriental that westerners just aren’t going to get it. But is bubble tea one of them?

“Vulgar, sugary cocktails of fruity milkshake plus tea… what’s not to like?”

The concept is straightforward, and, to unaccustomed eyes, straightforward barmy enough. Take balls of sticky, translucent tapioca, plonk into milky tea and add flavours, anything from fruit to chocolate, so long as you can think of an appropriate bright colour to identify it.

Two members of the Chowdown Showdown Getsaround crew already disliked these drinks. I generally love them. Vulgar, sugary cocktails of fruity milkshake plus tea plus fat straws with ideal dimensions for firing sticky blobs at your companions if you’re so inclined / bored of drinking (/eating?) them – what’s not to like?

I get the picture that they’re a bit odd, but they come in such varieties of flavours that, unless you’re inured to inoffensive lumps that just add fun (I don’t think they even take on the flavour of the liquid), how can you object?

My problem, though, is that this just wasn’t the best bubble tea I’ve had. It also wasn’t the best matcha I’ve had. Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood, but rather than being vibrant and indulgent this was more grainy and dull. The lychee milk someone else had was more interestingly flavoured with a strong fruity punch.

I’ve been there before, I’ll probably be back. But I reckon there’s a better bubble tea to be found in London. Answers on a postcard, or in the comments below.

67/100 best London dishes

Brunch at No 30 Café


I love brunch – it’s a brilliant invention. Somehow it makes eating the most unhealthy meals seen genuinely good for you. Something to do with ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’: no matter what you have it’s worthwhile…

But better than brunch is a good brunch. Good brunch can be great, and given that the brunch I had at No 30 Café was just good, I guess it was  only mediocre.

I had eggs benedict (back to any unhealthy meal is excused), and excellent Norfolk ham sat atop perfectly fine muffins. The eggs were perfect poached hemispheres, and here the problems began. Poached eggs shouldn’t be perfect, and I’m not really a believer in egg poachers (the gadget, not the profession if there is one). Poached eggs should be wispy, uneven things. They’re pretty difficult to get right, but that may be why when you do they’re surely the best eggs on earth. Light, not heavy. Fresh and runny, not stodgy and hard.

To top this off, the hollandaise, served on the side, meant the experience was one of dipping muffin, egg and ham into pure, yellow, fatty goo. Okay, I know that’s what hollandaise is, but when it’s drizzled on top it’s slightly better disguised.

Lovely loose leaf tea served in a large pot somewhat redeemed these choices, and Tom’s croque madame was genuinely delicious, so I’ll certainly give the place another try. But I’ll be on the lookout for even better places in the meantime.