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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One of a Kind Tea House (Albany, NY)

I have been off for the last two weeks and honestly... bored out of my mind. I'm in that weird transitional state where I'm tired of school, but I still need to study, and I am not even thinking about the "job market." To clear my mind, I headed back up to Troy. While I didn't do that much, it was good to be back.

On Friday, I met up with Albany Jane and John at One of a Kind Tea House in Albany. It's located on Central Avenue, next door to Van's. All Over Albany has covered it, and if you check Albany Jane's blog, she's does a better job of writing up the visit than I will in the following paragraphs.

The mention of bubble tea is what initially drew me to this place. Not that I'm a huge bubble tea fanatic. I think the last one I had was years ago in Edgewater, and that was pretty mediocre (at Mitsuwa no less!). And then there was that time at Garden State when one of the tapioca pearls went down the wrong pipe. Safe to say I've been cautious on the bubble tea since then.

They go for $2.95, which is on the cheap side when it comes to bubble tea. According to the menu you can get them either hot or cold... but I just can't picture someone ordering a hot bubble tea. I was leaning toward the papaya, but when I asked the server if it was green papaya or regular papaya, the non-answer answer made me go with mango instead. I couldn't tell if it was made fresh or from a mix, but it tasted like sweet mangoes.

AJ and AJo went the smoothie route, and ordered lychee and green tea smoothies. Nice and thick, about the consistency of Jamba Juices. I think it may be something to check out the next time I go there with M. I also saw on the menu they have Vietnamese coffee, but no Thai iced tea. If they ever choose to put that on the menu, they will win me over even more.

Hold on... here's a thought- what if you put tapioca pearls in a Thai iced tea? I think I have to do this!

Instead of entrees, we each ordered a couple of small dishes and shared. In the picture above, one of my dishes, Golden Tofu. From what I could tell, the silken tofu may have been lightly battered and then fried. The end result was tofu cubes that had a slight crunch as you bit into it, followed by the creamy center you expect with silken tofu. Accompanying the tofu was a vegetable stir fry (zucchini, mushrooms, julienned carrots), which I could not stop eating. Both the tofu and vegetables were topped with a sauce, but I wasn't sure exactly what they were made of. I definitely tasted coconut, and something salty/sweet, which AJ may have discovered to be miso.

I also ordered the Calamari skewers, which as you can see, are not on skewers at all. It was sliced however, and came with what I think was the wrong sauce. Reminded me of the sweet and sour sauce you find at McDonalds. Corn syrupy, when something savory would have been a better choice. The squid itself was good, slightly charred on the outside, but still moist on the inside. It was presented on top of a bed of what looked like broken up fried lumpia wrappers. Only these fried pieces were slightly sweet, and lumpia wrappers on their own don't usually taste like that.

AJ ordered the spicy chicken wings, and found them not to be all that spicy. And they look a bit too saucy, but thick saucy... and that's just too much. I didn't try any, so this is all I can say about these wings. Perhaps if you go, you can ask for them to be spicier?

She also ordered the grilled lamb salad, which is pretty much a mixed salad topped with lamb and served with either the house sauce (the not-so-great sauce I got with my squid), or the spicy garlic sauce. I was imagining bigger slices of lamb, like you would see on a grilled steak salad, but then again... the pieces were small enough so that if you were to mix everything together, hopefully the meat will have dispersed evenly throughout the salad. The lamb was alright, especially if I came across a crunchy grilled piece. The salad was meh, but I wasn't really expecting a salad at a Chinese restaurant. Oh and the spicy garlic sauce? Didn't taste all that spicy... or garlicky for that matter.

AJo ordered the House Spicy Shrimp soup (which I did not take a picture of), and the beef curry. I didn't try the beef or the vegetables, but I did try some of the curry sauce. And it was good. Good enough to dip bits of lamb in. Good enough to dip the calamari in. Good enough to just get a cup of it and drink on its own. This small sampling makes me believe that OoaKTH knows what they're doing when it comes to curry dishes.

The curry was served with scallion pancakes, which I forgot to take a picture of, but they were really good. Not saturated in oil, like I've had at other places. These were slightly glistening and very flaky. Pair this up with some of the lamb and that curry sauce? I think we have a new dish in the making- curry lamb scallion pancake tacos? What? Yes!

The Golden Tofu was my favorite dish, but the curry a very close second. And for the price (the tofu is a whopping $3.95) it's something you really shouldn't pass up. I'm already planning my next trip there... this is something M needs to try.

One Of a Kind Tea House
305 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12206
(518) 729-3067

M-F 10:00 - 9:00
Sa 11:00 - 10:00

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