When Suzie, Emily, and I are together, we do three things over and over again:
1) We make dinner together.
2) We eat dinner together.
3) We seek out dessert together. Usually gelato.
We continued this tradition yesterday by feasting on a picnic-style meal indoors (thanks to the less-than-glamorous weather), then heading to Richmond to seek out dessert, this time Asian rather than Italian.
First impression? I can’t lie. When I first walked in, I wanted to turn around and walk straight back out. That’s because the whole shop smelled of durian (the nicest descriptor I could come up with was “humidly sulphurous”). At first, the durian scent was so strong I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to adjust, but eventually the powerful smell subsided, and I no longer felt as though I was sitting on a pile of hard-boiled eggs in a natural hot spring.
The shop was small, with tables on either side of the front counter, behind which was a man and a woman working furiously to keep up with the orders. The menu included bubble tea, but their specialties are various hot and cold desserts (Hong Kong-style ‘sweet soups’). These include various nut or sesame ‘pastes’ (peanut, cashew, almond etc.), as well as dumplings in hot soup or wine, and fruit with sago cream.
Sago look like tiny, clear tapioca pearls, but they’re made from a tree (the sago palm) whereas tapioca is derived from the cassava or manioc. The sago pearls they use at Bubble Fruity are quite small, and looked like translucent fish eggs.
We ordered the special, which was mango with grass jelly, sago, and chia seeds ($7.50). We also asked for the cashew paste, black sticky rice with coconut milk, a lychee bubble tea, and fluffy cream toast. We placed our order (asking for all of them cold, though hot versions are also possible), and eventually found ourselves a table.
Of all the dishes, our two favourites were the toast and sticky rice with coconut milk.
The black rice stuck up like volcanic mountains in the coconut milk, and reminded me of the peaks of porridge I used to drown in brown sugar when I was a child. This dish was purely enjoyable; it combined the awesomely chewy texture of sticky rice with the sweet creaminess of coconut milk, and I’ve since decided that I could happily eat this stuff for breakfast every day.
The fluffy cream toast appeared to be sweet white bread, heavily buttered, spread with something sugary (marshmallow cream?), and broiled quickly under a grill. Warm white bread with butter and a sugary crust? Well yes, of course we would love that.
Why? Because we are not completely nuts. This was one of the best toasts I’ve had at a bubble tea house, and it’s rivaled only by the toast + butter + sweetened/condensed milk I had at Pearl Castle.
The cashew paste looked like an enormous bowl of butterscotch pudding. It tasted like finely pureed cashews that had been blended with water and sugar, and while it was a touch too sweet for my liking, I liked the toasty flavour of it. We all agreed that the portion was rather large – a bit too much creaminess without enough textural contrast.
The mango with sago and grass jelly was certainly the most photogenic dish of the bunch.
The bottom of the bowl held slippery little sago pearls and a generous scoop of dark green grass jelly. The dish also had what looked like an entire mango, sliced into cubes and topped with spoonfuls of gelatinous chia seeds.
I loved the mango, but kind of wished the grass jelly had been coconut jelly instead (less healthy, but more flavourful!). Our lychee bubble tea was tasty, though rather sweet (I don’t think he heard me say “half-sweet, please.”)
It’s a good thing our dinner wasn’t enormous, because dessert was pretty much a second meal. Bubble Fruity also offers savoury snacks for those who would like a little salt before their sugar. It’s very busy on the weekend, and even if there are no tables free, I’d highly recommend getting takeout. Many of these dishes and drinks would be especially refreshing in the middle of the summer, and now I’m half-considering buying myself some black sticky rice and coconut cream to switch-up my breakfast routine…..
I imagine that if Suzie, Emily, and I lived near each other in Richmond or Hong Kong, we would meet up frequently for dessert soups and bubble tea. Our hot, late-evening summer strolls to the gelato shop would be replaced by strolls for sticky rice in coconut milk. No matter where we live, however, we will always, always be amused by giant pictures of cheese. They transcend time and geography.
Happy Monday, everyone.
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options available