Many have told me some of the best food in NorCal is in Berkeley, so my two buddies and I decided to head up there Sunday afternoon. Other than getting boba, we had no set plan on where to eat. It was an adventure nonetheless walking around downtown Berkeley.
We first went to Platano since one of my friends and I had never tried Salvadorian food. We each ordered a plate of pupusa and shared a plate of platanos, which is fried plantains with bean and cream as dip.
The platanos dish is interesting. I didn’t quite like mixing fried plantains with the beans, but it was okay with the cream. On its own, the plantains are incredibly sweet. The beans on its own is very delicious. You can taste the sourness of the cream when eaten alone.
A couple doors down Platano is Asha Tea House. I adore the decor and the ambiance is perfect for any college student to study whilst drinking (milk) tea. I want to say it’s very hipster, but I feel the whole of downtown Berkeley is hipster, haha. I think it’s awesome that they are environmentally conscience as they have bins for plastics, ice, paper, etc. My friends and I decided to share one large Hong Kong Milk Tea with boba. The boba is chewy and sweet, but the size reminds me of second-rate boba shops. The tea itself is disappointing because it lacked flavor as if I were drinking sweetened water.
We explored a game store before heading to another boba shop called Boba Guys. However, after walking more than a mile to our supposed destination, we were unable to find an armadillo— literally or in logo form—or a sign. The address number for Boba Guys is the same as a Chinese restaurant that stood there, so we assumed they closed. It was later that we discovered on yelp that Boba Guys is inside the restaurant. Horrible advertisement.
We ended up going to ShareTea. I had Matcha Green Tea Crema before at the SF branch, so I wanted to try something new. I didn’t see any signs, so I think the Berkeley branch doesn’t charge 25 cents if you ask for no ice unlike the branch in SF. The shop is also a lot bigger than the SF store.
We ordered Hokkaido Milk Tea, Okinawa Milk Tea, and Brown Rice Milk Tea. The Hokkaido flavor is very tasty but too much on the sweet side. The minimum percentage of sugar you can add is 80%, which sucks because the tea would pop out more if it was less sweet. I don’t remember what the Okinawa flavor tasted like, so I guess you can say that drink is forgettable… I kid. Since I asked for 0% sugar for the Brown Rice, it was actually quite tasty. It has a rich roasted flavor; however, it reminded me too much of Barley and not much of brown rice—not that I was expecting anything extraordinary judging by the name.
Before leaving Berkeley, we wanted to get Purple Kow to-go, but they closed at 6pm; we arrived at 6:37. A shop or two before Purple Kow is a Korean restaurant called Crunch that sells tornado potato, which is basically one long thinly sliced potato wrapped around a stick. My friend ordered one with cheese flavor. I was expecting cheese melted on top of the potato but they sprinkled cheese powder; I expect too much when it comes to potatoes.
The potato tasted dry and a bit stale like it has been fried for too long, but the shape/presentation made the eating experience enjoyable. The cheese powder had an interesting taste that reminded me of some Asian snacks I’ve had.
It was a tea-rific (excuse my pun, haha) day, and we definitely had lots of tea in our belly by the end of our adventure despite not being able to try out Boba Guys and Puple Kow.