Monday, November 27, 2006

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

A few entries ago, I expressed the wish that my downtown Oakland explorations might bring me a new ice cream shop. That hasn’t happened yet, but I did discover something almost as good, and far less common: a new pearl tea joint. A Quickly franchise has opened on 10th street. I had never actually been to a Quickly before, so it was quite an adventure. They offer dozens of varieties of pearl tea, which is one of my guilty pleasures. I know two places on International Boulevard that offer the drink, but I’ve never been really happy with either of them. One has really dry, waxy pearls that are somehow disagreeable, and the other uses so many tea bags to make one cup of tea that I get jumpy just thinking about it.

So I was thrilled to find Quickly. In addition to good tea, they also have a wonderfully strange snack menu. I think the business is originally Taiwanese, and although I don’t specifically remember Quickly from my summer in Taichung, their puzzling snacks seemed familiar. Menu items that I admire but probably won’t be trying any time soon include hot green tea pudding, avocado gelato, fried pop dog, and garlic toast. (What’s so strange about garlic toast? It was on the dessert menu.)

The other thing that reminded me of Taiwan is that the service was awful. Not in any kind of mean-spirited way. Just benignly neglectful in a way you don’t typically encounter in this country. I stood at the counter for several minutes before the woman in back quit her half-hearted flogging of a bag of ice to come to the register. In the middle of my order, she shoed me away to allow two girls who had been there longer than I had to pay. (They had been sitting there so patiently I assumed they were just waiting for their order to come up.) When I ordered condensed milk toast, the lady informed me that they were out of toast. It reminded me of baffling service experiences I’ve had in Asia. I wasn’t in a big hurry, so I found it charming rather than frustrating. It’s good to know I don’t have to go far to get a taste of the East.

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