(I am currently participating in World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine, and to be honest, making myself suffer by writing a food blog post really isn’t the smartest thing right now… but I just have way too many restaurants to write about and I don’t want the list to start accumulating! By the way, thought I’d share this achievement with you – I discovered this morning I am currently the top fundraiser in CANADA for the Famine – woohoo!)
After much waiting, the new Bubble Waffle Cafe finally opened in the University Village last week! As a bubble tea enthusiast, I was very sad to see Well Tea close as the space became vacant for months earlier this school year. Other than the bubble tea joint located in the basement of the SUB, there really was no authentic source of Asian beverages on campus. Don’t get me started about food choices at UBC – for a foodie, the situation is rather depressing for its ridiculously overpriced and mediocre food offered to students, staff, and faculty.
As with Well Tea, prior to its opening on campus, Bubble Waffle Cafe already had other locations, particularly in Richmond. For me, the quality and selection of food varied across the chain. Before my visit, I had heard that the food was moderate, but I would agree otherwise overall. I ordered a Sesame Bubble Waffle ($3.75), Sour Cream & Onion Korean Twisted Potato (Hurricane Fries) ($4.50), and Honey Green Tea with Coconut Jelly ($3.50 + $0.50), while Michelle and her friend ordered a Noodle Combo ($5.99 for 2 toppings, or $7.55 for 2 toppings and a drink; $1 for each additional topping, cabbage and bean curd included).
I am not the type of person who demands their food to be sizzling hot when served, but I found my street snacks to be slightly colder than anticipated when my order number was called. Comparing this experience to the Richmond Night Market truly brought back feelings of summer nostalgia (but fear not, Vancouver weather has been rather generous with us lately – summer should be well on its way). After shuffling through a tiny crowd, we were finally able to sit down at a table we had occupied earlier. The sesame bubble waffle seemed a little overdone and tasted borderline burnt, but I was satisfied because the sesame flavour was brought out even more as a result of this “roasting”. The same sweetness found in the bubble waffle was identical to those offered at other locations, which I found pleasant for its milky taste.
The hurricane fries were delicious, but were also the most time-consuming menu item to make. The presentation of these twisted potatoes still continue to mesmerize me, even years after I have had my very first one. Rolled in powder and fried, I absolutely loved this street snack in one of my favourite potato chip flavours. Again, as with my bubble waffle, the Korean twisted potato appeared to be a little cold, but fortunately was not soggy and still delicious to consume.
My honey green tea was acceptable – not too sugary, with an evident hint of tea leaves. Coconut jelly was not my first choice, but since the restaurant did not have pearls, I took their alternative suggestion. I find that oftentimes, green tea bubble tea are far too drenched with syrup and most of the lack the real taste of tea. Bubble Waffle Cafe overcomes this, but I still did not find anything particularly special with my beverage.
Michelle and her friend shared the noodle combo with a side order of original bubble waffles. Their bowl of chicken soup, instant noodles, and toppings of sliced beef and fish puffs were served at a hot temperature (finally) with an aromatic steam consisting of seafood and meat. The portions of toppings were balanced in ratio to the noodles offered, and there was more than enough soup. I also had a chance to try their minced pork fish soup afterwards, and am delighted to verify their consistency of savourous soup bases. Michelle also ordered a Taiwanese beverage, honey green milk tea, which was priced the same as my honey green tea.
I am just going to raise a couple of concerns that occurred to me during my visit to Bubble Waffle Cafe:
- Seating. Bubble Waffle Cafe appears to no longer have access to the upstairs space that Well Tea used to offer to customers, leaving only a handful of tables available for customers who order “for here” downstairs. The long line-ups (for now, as I am unsure if the line-ups will shorten in the future after the hype over their grand opening ends) extending outside of the restaurant also makes it difficult for customers to navigate around to scramble for noodle soup ordering sheets and condiments. The table arrangements are pretty much permanent and inflexible, leaving many unnecessary chairs often lying in the path of people waiting for their food or exiting the cafe.
- Food preparation time. Although there seems to be many people hustling about in the kitchen, the amount of time required to make bubble waffles is standardized; the only way to speed up the preparation time would be to invest in more bubble wafflers. During my visit, I received my food promptly within 10-15 minutes, but I am still iffy about the waiting time due to the overwhelming line-ups (especially if they persist).
Just a couple of grand opening notes: to my surprise, Bubble Waffle Cafe already offers alternative payment methods other than Cash – I myself paid by debit card. Also, their teppanyaki rice menu is “coming soon” with no tentative date, so those options will probably be made available to customers at a later time.
In terms of deals and discounts, the UBC location is currently offering a grand opening discount of 10% on all orders, but since I am unsure when that is going to end, you should catch the deal while you can. In recognition of their grand opening, I also found that they are currently offering a coupon on Big City Perks for hurricane potatoes! On the other hand, the $1 add-on option to a meal for one original flavoured bubble waffle appears to be permanent. After all, bubble waffles are their signature feature that attracts customers in the first place, along with the very name of their restaurant.
Bubble waffles and bubble tea make a bubbly Fee happy, especially during school time at UBC!
*Afternote: The Mini Super, a mini snack & grocery store conveniently located upstairs, is also owned by Bubble Waffle so be sure to check that out!