Boba Island - a new place for bubble tea in Chinatown. Paula E. Kirman
10588 100 Street
I have frequented many a bubble tea shop in my time, and Boba Island is the best.
First of all, the owner is incredibly friendly, as are the others in her family who staff the place. She actually used to own Longan, a Vietnamese restaurant a couple of doors down. However, she sold it, and bought the empty bubble tea shop on the corner. Her former restaurant is now Veggie Garden.
Previously The Tea Cottage, Boba Island is a radical transformation of the space. It is much brighter than before (with many different sets of lights), very clean, and has a small seating area. It looks larger, and is very inviting.
Of course, the main reason to come to Boba Island is all the drinks. There is a selection of bubble milk with flavours and sago (tapioca pearls), as well as ones made with fresh fruit. Most drinks are under $5, and there is a small menu of snacks on the wall, like onion cakes and pork balls. Like the drinks, most of these food items are around $5.
I had a fresh avocado bubble milk. Often, the drink is ruined by using avocados that are over-ripe. I was happy to discover that my drink tasted fresh and perfect. Even the tapioca balls had a fresh, sweet taste to them (they are often flavourless and sometimes soggy). There was a good selection of fresh fruit drinks from which to choose, as well as ones made from syrups and powders.
I was thrilled to see a steady stream of customers coming into the shop and could tell the staff really enjoyed making the drinks – even when one customer ordered fresh durian. A durian is a fruit with a very distinctively pungent smell. So pungent, it is banned in some public places in certain parts of Asia.
“Boba,” by the way, is another term for bubble tea, typically used in the United States. If you love this drink, no matter what you call it, get to Boba Island. It’s a delicious value.