Boba Blog: Chatown (San Francisco, California)

Update (10/14/2017): I haven’t gone back to Chatown for over a year due to a negative experience. The service was terribly slow, and the milk tea that day tasted horrible. It tasted nothing like milk tea, and I felt a bit nauseated after drinking it. I haven’t been able to get myself to go back since then.


For quite some time, I’ve been hoping for a new boba joint that is better than Cool Tea Bar to open up in Chinatown . Some would say there’s Boba Guys, but to get there, you’d have to cross the Stockton Tunnel, so it doesn’t count as a Chinatown boba joint.

Thankfully, Chatown (CHAtime in ChinaTOWN) opened up.

Chatown replaced the old Quickly on the corner of Powell/Jackson. They had up the Chatown banner since mid-2015, but it took them a couple months before they opened up. I was confident that I would start frequenting this place if it was anywhere close to the quality of Oakland Chatime.

 

Ambiance: 7/10

I can’t really expect much from a boba shop that replaced the old Quickly space. This Chatown is the size of an average home’s kitchen. It would be considered crowded with ~8 people in the store.

They did try their best to repaint the space and put up some decor. They try to make the interior look relevant by hanging little artwork around and use flat screen TVs as menus, but no amount of decor can hide the cramped space.

 

Service: 7/10

I’m not sure why, but this Chatown takes frustratingly long to make a drink. You can be the only person in there to order, and it can still take 5-10 minutes to get your drink out. I try my best not to be too critical, but it’s hard not to when there isn’t much for them to do to make my milk tea:

  1. Grab a shaker and add some liquid sugar in it.
  2. Fill up the shaker with pre-made milk tea from the milk tea dispensers they have lined up on the wall.
  3. Shake it up. (duh)
  4. Grab a cup and add boba to it.
  5. Pour the shaken milk tea into the cup and add the cap.

I’ve been trying to theorize why it takes them so long to make drinks, and I’m concluding that it could be a combination of inexperience from the new workers and the layout of the work station. Oh well. They’re still new so I’m hoping they become more efficient as time goes on.

 

Boba Drink: 8/10

The milk tea taste is reminiscent of the milk tea from Sharetea, and it tastes way better than Cool Tea Bar’s milk tea. It’s not too milky or sugary, and there’s just enough tea to balance out all the other flavors.

The boba is pretty decent. It can sometimes be a bit on the soft side, but most of the time, it has the good chewy texture and is just sweet enough.

Chatown-MilkTea

 

Final Rating: 7.3/10

Aside from the questionable service and so-so ambiance, the milk tea itself is pretty good. It’s definitely one of my favorite boba shops in Chinatown. However, I wouldn’t go out of my way to come here unless I’m already in the neighborhood.

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