Bubble-tea buffs will appreciate the generous deal for regulars at Vivi, a shiny, chirpy little shop in Chinatown. After you’ve bought five drinks (and gotten your “VIP” card stamped), the sixth is free. But wait, there’s more: You then qualify for 20 percent off on every beverage from that day on. And it’s good stuff, says Lau, probably the best he’s had in the neighborhood—free of the odd chalkiness and cloying sweetness of many competitors. Warning to the cuteness-averse: Like popular boba spots in Taiwan, Lau advises, Vivi is a “super like bubbly type of place.”
In the East Village, they’re brewing better-than-average bubble tea at TKettle, a newish outpost of a big Asian chain. Pat Hammond reports delicious black tea with milk, just sweet enough, and tapioca pearls with a pleasing chew. “Their motto is ‘Healthy drinks in delicious way’!” Pat adds. “I’ll drink to that!” We hear word of excellent northern Chinese dumplings here as well; no reports yet.
Vivi Bubble Tea [Chinatown]
49 Bayard Street (at Elizabeth), Manhattan
TKettle Drinks [East Village]
26 St. Marks Place (between Second and Third avenues), Manhattan