I have to admit this: I am seriously addicted to Royal Milk Tea, that gorgeously rich beverage made with tea brewed directly into steaming hot milk and sweetened. Think of it as chai without the spices – very, very nice!
Chilled Royal Milk Tea is also a favorite of mine, but – up until recently – it was pretty hard to get a decent tumbler of the cold and creamy beverage anywhere in the Greater Manila Area. I would usually get my iced milk tea fix from a Quickly kiosk (and they do milk tea rather well), but the newest kissaten [Japanese-style cafe] at the Megamall opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.
The Tokyo Milk Tea Place opened last May and grabbed my attention by way of the little sample cups they gave away to passers-by. The sort of drink they serve is called bubble tea because of the chewy tapioca balls [sago] that come with every serving. This was quite a foodie fad some years back, but it sort of fell out of favor when all the “pearl shake/cooler” wannabes showed up. Still, the new kissaten takes the milky drink to a whole new level.
The first thing that sets the kissaten apart from the usual milk tea/pearl shake kiosk is the fact that it’s a sit-down restaurant that offers a great selection of milk-based and fruit-based chilled teas, hot tea drinks, tea-infused and seriously thick milkshakes, snacks, and meals. Looking at both the decor and the menu (which is, if I may add, partly written in Japanese), it’s like you stepped into Tokyo’s youthful and trendy Harajuku district.
A medium-sized tumbler of their Royal Milk Tea goes for P 55.00 – rather pricey compared to thirty bucks for a pearl shake elsewhere, but it comes in a large halo-halo glass. [I saw their large tumbler; I’d probably drown in one. ;)] It’s not as sweet as the usual milk teas currently available, but the tea flavor is well-pronounced and the drink goes down smooth and easy. I just wish the sago was a bit firmer, though. Given the faint hint of bergamot I noticed, they probably used Earl Gray tea for it. They also have exotic concoctions like the matcha milkshake with adzuki beans and lavender milk tea which I’m dying to try.
Their selection of snacks and meals are also worth trying and are reasonably priced from P 95.00 to 130.00. The menu includes such kissaten staples as dainty sandwiches on white bread (no crusts!), curry rice, ramen, and doria, rice gratins made with a variety of toppings. For first-timers to kissaten culture or those looking for a light but satisfying meal, I recommend their chiizu maki. Think of it as an Oriental chicken cordon bleu: chicken filets are wrapped around nori-wrapped pieces of cheese, rolled into rice paper, breadcrumbed, and deep-fried. They’re amazing tidbits because the chicken is very tender while the outer coating is deliciously crisp. If you think nori and cheese make for an unusual combination, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well they work together.
Tokyo Milk Tea Place ~ Lower Ground Level (beside BreadTalk) – Building A, SM Megamall, EDSA, Mandaluyong.