Monday, May 28, 2012

Tapioca Express - Irvine

A new Tapioca Express just opened in Costa Mesa. Yes, apparently I was premature when I proclaimed a few years ago that boba had gone the way of the dodo like so many food fads.

Tapioca Express, judging by this recent development and the longevity of other outlets, is still growing and remains strong--even as froyo shops continue to melt away into oblivion. And truth be told, I haven't actually been to a frozen yogurt shop in ages; but I haven't stopped going to Tapioca Express, at least the one on Jamboree and DuPont, next to the Daily Grill.

This store, I'm convinced, is the best one in the whole franchise. They have couches to sit on, magazines that aren't from the early nineties, and a staff that seems to be glad to be there.

But it isn't for the milk tea bobas that we come. We're there whenever we're jonesing for Taiwanese-style crispy chicken. Unlike the other Tapioca Expresses in town, they use big, generous cuts of white meat for theirs, each gossamer-battered chunk still juicy and fried fresh. And while other poorly managed Tapioca Expresses have given up on serving it with fried basil leaves, this branch still does--a sign that they still take pride in what they do.

We usually end up having it as a complete meal with fresh steamed rice and a salad coated in such an addictive, sweet-and-sour, Asian oil-and-vinegar dressing that I use more of it to douse my rice and dip my chicken.

So, long live Tapioca Express at Jamboree Promenade! May you outlast the frozen yogurt stores, the cupcake boutiques and the recently birthed snow ice shops.

Tapioca Express
2636 Dupont Dr
Irvine, CA 92612
(949) 553-9988

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At 11:26 AM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

Ya, this is a pretty good location. Have you had the food at Tea Station though? Their fried pork chop is probably the best around Irvine (close second is the one from 101 Noodle Express). The caveat with the Tea Station one is that it's also the most expensive around.

At 5:00 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I do like Tea Station, though it is a bit expensive sometimes. The tea there is real tea, though...serious tea!

At 5:21 PM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

Ya, the food at tea station is expensive. if it were like a dollar or two cheaper (to be more competitive), I'd be there much more frequently.

as for the teas there, they're alright. but then i'm 1. a tea snob, 2. get my green tea direct from taiwan. :D

At 7:28 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

What I see is that boba has seen a resurgence within the past two years, but with a focus on higher quality ingredients. In my area, there's a TapEx in my local mall (where there is an emphasis on different types of tea + brewing process); near the high school is a Honeyboba which resembles the Half & Half boba shop that probably restarted the boba craze. Other shops seem to have taken notice and have added boba into their drink menus as well.

The stubby cups seem to also be another trend, most likely started by Half and Half and now spread to places such as Class 302.

Speaking about frozen yogurt, the last time I had it at a frozen yogurt shop was after I realized Costco offered frozen yogurt for a much more reasonable price.

At 8:50 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


You know what else Tea Station does well? Tea eggs! Cheap snack too! Though not as cheap as Champion, but still!


Ah! Yes! It's the Half and Half and Clas 302 effect! How did I forget about them!

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

LOL. That's pretty hard core going there for the tea eggs, that's easy enough to make at home!

At 1:50 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

I can't seem to make it as good as theirs. Mine always comes out never as deeply flavored and I use my own variation of this recipe ( It always comes out light in color (like Steamy Kitchen's) and light in flavor. Care to divulge any secrets on how to make a good tea egg?

At 9:24 PM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

The lightness and flavour comes from the fact that you don't have it on simmer long enough. And by long enough, I mean not just overnight but like days. Take a look at the photos from this story:

You also need to pick a good quality soy sauce. As I'm sure you know, not all soy sauces are alike, you need to pick a soy sauce where it's not only salty but has the deep rich fragrance of the soybeans. That will help to bring an additional layer of complexity to it. I've heard of people who also add dashes of rice wine (not to be confused with mirin but the real stuff: I also notice that the steamykitchen recipe didn't have rock sugar (, this will help to balance out the flavours a bit as well.

I'm also willing to wager that Tea Station probably toss in a little bit of MSG to spice it up a bit.


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