Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.
So, you might be asking yourself, Andrew, what qualifies you to give food recommendations. Sure, I may have conned my way into Yelp Elite status, but I often ask myself the same questions too sometimes. Am I a food critic? No. Am I a classically trained chef? Not really. But have I been to over 50 boba stores, 12 soup dumpling restaurants, and every fried chicken restaurant within a 5-mile radius of Caltech? Most assuredly, yes. So without further ado, welcome, to Chandrew’s Recs. First up today, bubble tea.
The closest boba to Caltech, TPumps is not somewhere you go for quality. The boba is resoundingly average. But the highlight of TPumps is the price. On Tuesdays, you can get a large “pumpbo” for $3.50, a veritable steal by LA standards. My recommendation: rose vanilla green milk tea, 25% sugar (this is still SUPER sweet, but hey, when it’s Tuesday).
Cup of Cha
So, you like Tiger Sugar’s brown sugar boba milk, but you don’t like driving to Rowland Heights? I’ve got a solution for you! Cup of Cha is located in Monrovia, about 55 minutes from Caltech depending on the public transit schedule. Drinks are solid, pearls are good, but I really only come here for one drink, the brown sugar boba milk. Try the classic with egg pudding and you won’t regret it. New to the boba arena and don’t know what brown sugar boba milk is? It’s basically just a caramelly, sugary milkshake. You’ll love it.
Similar to Cup of Cha, BubbleU is in Chinatown, a short trip off the Gold line in LA. BubbleU recently introduced high quality larger pearls, which have skyrocketed it to the top of my list. A solid option for all of your classic milk tea drinks from jasmine, to Thai tea and taro, BubbleU is my go-to all-around bubble tea location. A great place for studying too (when there isn’t a pandemic).
In a pinch and don’t know where to go? Or looking for something new? A few places are solid, but not excellent. Personally, I like Prolece, One Zo, OinkMoo, and TeaMorrow. All are solid, many are close to campus.
My Favorite: Labobatory
I had to save the best for last, of course. Labobatory is my all-time favorite bubble tea store, including every place I’ve been to abroad and across the US. Their combinations of startlingly unique and aesthetically pleasing drinks with the best non-homemade pearls I’ve had. Their menu is always rotating so you’ll never get bored. Couple this with the excellent study space in the new Pasadena location, and you’ll never need to go anywhere else.