While in the thick of the recent holiday rush, and onslaught of seemingly never ending errands, I found myself totally depleted and famished while parked in a shopping center located in the middle of the Tonawanda stretch of Niagara Falls Boulevard. Not wanting to try my luck at the merry-go-round of chain restaurant land that exists in those parts, I typed in a quick search to see what (else) was near me and instantly was surprised when Tai chi Bubble Tea appeared on my screen.
Now, I had heard the business name before, having originated their first and only other locations in and around the Rochester area (3 to be exact), yet hadn’t given them a taste since opening locally (in late October 2017). Tai Chi Bubble Tea is a quick serve concept specializing in customized Japanese offerings such as burritos, rice bowl, salad bowls, and a dizzying array of bubble tea, milk tea, fruit tea, smoothies, and yogurts offerings.
The interesting hook to this operation is Tai Chi’s version of a burrito. It is essentially an oversized cylindrical burrito-esque hand-roll, with the seaweed acting as the wrapper. The sushi burrito instantly upped the ante of any Japanese hand-held lunch I had ever experienced. Not that I’m the most avid sushi-eater, but there was something about the nature of the burrito that intrigued me. And for those who are not interested in the sushi take, as I stated above, there are two other variations on the same protein and vegetable inclusions, flavors, and topping options offered/listed, which are the rice and salad bowl, which I may try in the future if I ever get bored with the burrito… but that might never happen.
Another plus from this “burrito” was the lack of reliance on rice as a filler, therefore everything I wanted included in my own creation, really had a presence. All too often in these types of concepts, the final result can be overly diluted with filler. Now, getting back to the burrito building. Yes, the options are many – which is great for repeat business, there are literally hundreds of combinations to try between the three styles, I don’t foresee a customer getting bored all that quickly.
After choosing your vehicle (burrito, bowl, salad) you then have the option of white or brown rice. Then your greens, which are lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and/or kale. From there your protein options – and this is how you are charged – 1 protein at $8.99, 2 at $9.99, 3 at $11.99. Options ranging from bacon, to tuna, spicy tuna, salmon, spicy salmon, crab meat, shrimp, organic tofu, to chicken.
The mix-ins, and you can choose as many as possible include: pickled radish, cucumber, cream cheese, avocado, broccoli, olive, red onion, green pepper, edamame, white onion, jalapeño, corn, carrot, cherry tomato, black bean, mushroom. The sauces are just as varied: spicy mayo, wasabi sauce, thousand island, Thai sweet chili, eel sauce, yuzu, ponzu, mango sauce, chili hot sauce. And lastly, there are toppings and crunch offerings such as sushi egg (tamale), wasabi, cilantro, mango, green onion, ginger, seaweed salad, fried onion, fried garlic, fried wonton noodle, and teriyaki seaweed.
The reason I listed that exhausting list of options was to illustrate that there is something for everyone here. For non adventurous eaters, there is bacon or chicken as a main. Vegan (organic tofu), actually how I ordered, is super easy and wonderfully satisfying. Want a little of everything, you wont get charged (other than the proteins), so go for it. See what I am getting at here?
I think that this concept would work beautifully in downtown Buffalo servicing the work lunch crowd and in-a-hurry dinner crowd. Between myriad tea beverages and the litany of food options, all at a reasonable price, I feel that this concept would be a perfect fit. And if you think that you’ve tried a sushi burrito elsewhere… I can be that it was nothing close to the size, the variety, and the deliciousness of Tai chi Bubble Tea’s version. The spicy tuna is also completely off the hook.
Eating the burrito was indeed satisfying, and once you got the hang of it, pretty easy to eat without everything falling out from the inside. Yet, I will say that the bowls/salads do seem to be a better value, based on just sheer logic (there is only so much you can fit into a square of nori (seaweed). Though my order was based solely on transportability, I would think based on the options offered, one could be extremely satisfied hunger-wise by ordering a rice or salad bowl, and checking off an extravaganza of items on the order form. Sticking with the burrito, I did wish there was something else offered to go alongside; something as simple as a cup of miso soup. Yes the size of the meal was just fine, for a light lunch, but I just think that given the winter season, and the cuisine, the offering of a bowl of miso would be a no brainer.
Finally, the bubble tea. While I am not a fan of bubble tea, a friend of mine had the version that they serve at Tai Chi Bubble Tea and said that it was hands down the best boba that he had ever had in Buffalo. He loved that they had “popping boba”, which is not the same as the more familiar gummy tapioca pearls. This new type of boba pearl has a thin gel-like skin that is filled with juice, and ‘pops’ when chewed. It’s a completely different, refreshing sensation. There are tons of flavors to choose from, and each of the bobas come in a sealed to-go cup, making it easy for travel.
If Tai Chi Bubble Tea was located in the city, or in downtown, I can see myself going there on a semi-regular basis. The sushi burrito is a sensational and satiating mid-day meal. Plus, my friend would be extremely happy if he could get his boba fix closer to home. As Tai Chi Bubble Tea continues to ripple out from Rochester, only time will tell. This place would be the perfect fit for the former Oshun location. Hmmm…
Tai Chi Bubble Tea | 2309 Eggert Road | Tonawanda , New York 14150 | (716) 322-5663 | Facebook