When one thinks Surrey Central, bubble tea and Taiwanese food don't really come to mind. Not until recently, Bubble 88 was the only choice in the area (if you didn't count T&T and other strictly "bubble tea only" joints). Of course Pearl Castle has now opened up another location adjacent to T&T (more on that a previous post...), hence, providing another option. Yet, let me concentrate on my visit to Bubble 88 with Gamer Girl (and a subsequent re-vist as well).
We started with the Popcorn Chicken which was a decent portion of crispy dark meat nuggets and fried basil. Although the skin was left attached, it was sufficiently rendered that it blended in with the batter. As for that batter, it was as mentioned, crispy and light and moderately salty, but I would've liked to see some more 5 spice. The chicken wasn't exactly juicy, yet it was still tender nonetheless. Naturally, I had the Bubble 88 Beef Noodle featuring tripe, shank and tendon with tomato, Shanghai bak choy and pickled mustard greens. I found the broth to be very mild being easy on the sodium. It was only moderately impactful with a minor beef taste. The noodles were nicely chewy though while the meats were good including the tender shank and soft offal.
Gamer Girl had the Tofu and Veggie Hot Plate and it was more or less decent. The adequate amount of sauce was a good mix of savoury and sweet (where it stayed thick until the end). The tofu was medium-firm and was fried just enough so it wasn't tough on the outside. We got an order of the Xiao Long Bao (yes, I know this is a Taiwanese joint) and at first, they were undercooked being raw in the middle. I sent it back for more cooking and it turned out okay with a medium thick dumpling skin. The filling was moist and meaty with a small amount of soup which was sweet and pork tasting. Although we really didn't mind them putting the XLBs back in the steamer, the right thing to do would be a brand new dish.
On my return visit, I tried out the Fried Squid Tentacles which were on point. With thick tentacles with a firm while easy chew and a light crunchy batter, I tried not to eat all of them as I had another dish. I found the batter to be well-seasoned and not greasy at all. For my main, I tried the Sesame Oil Chicken Hot Pot where I opted for a bowl of noodles rather than rice. Consisting of 2 chopped up chicken legs, ginger and enough sesame oil for a box of Nissan instant noodles, there was no absence of flavour. With that said, the broth wasn't salty though. I particularly liked how the chicken was not overcooked, hence being juicy and tender. The noodles were a bit too soft though, as it got even softer when I used the broth.
Of course I can't forget to talk about at least one beverage right (considering the place is called Bubble 88...). The drink is question was the Mango Slush with coconut jelly. This was generally blended smooth, but it was pretty sweet. With the addition of the coconut jelly (and the syrup it is packed in), the drink in my opinion could've used less sugar (I guess I could ask for less). However, my overall experience over these 2 visits were mostly good with above-average eats. I'm still a bit on the fence about the XLBs where they took a partly eaten order and recooked it. Not totally awful, but not really something I've seen very often.
- Decent eats
- Adequate portions
- Service was okay both times, but a bit sparse and that XLB thing...
- Bubble tea a bit too sweet (but could ask for less sugar though)