I don’t know about you, but I try to ration the amount of holiday coffee drinks I get from Starbucks. Don’t get me wrong, I love the high-calorie “snacks” as I like to think of them and often reward myself (almost like a small child) with a Peppermint Mocha, Pumpkin Spice Latte or other whipped-cream-laden-sweet chocolate-with-a-bit-of-coffee creation while doing errands or as a break at work.
However, Monday, I decided that my morning coffee intake had already caused my blood to run a little too high on the caffeine meter, so when I needed a little break and snack while doing errands in Columbia, the Ichiban Café provided a yummy alternative. It was also at least 50 degrees – too cold to put the top down on the car, but warm enough to forgo the toasty Starbucks treat.
Ichiban lured me in with the words, “bubble tea” engraved along a border on their storefront, and Mr. HowChow had already mentioned this place to me as a new “to try” restaurant when we felt up for going out to eat sometime soon. I entered Ichiban to be greeted with an overwhelming number of items on their menu, both posted above the counter, as well as provided as a take-out version that I brought home later. The first thing that drew me in was the long lists of “Specialty Drinks”, which included Bubble Teas, Smoothies, and Milkshakes. Although the milkshakes looked especially good, the 50 degree weather swayed me to save that for another day. It also turned out that the Jasmine smoothie may have been a mistake on the takeout menu (the folks who work there said that maybe it was due to some changes on the menu since they opened a few weeks ago).
I tend to pick the unusual things on menus like this, so it was no difficulty to decide on the Jasmine Bubble Tea. (By the way, can anyone help me with this name – I swear that when I lived in LA, everyone, including the stores where I bought this, called it Boba Tea…..is Bubble Tea an east coast thing?). Anyway, there are a large variety of offerings, from the more common coffee, mango, and chocolate to the more unusual Taro, Bubble Milk, and Papaya. I have to admit that you need to like both the flavor of jasmine (floral and light, though distinctive) as well as those tapioca Bubbles (Boba) to make this a hit.
While I waited for my take-out-Jasmine Bubble Tea, I read the rest of the menu and watched a few people pick up an early dinner (or late lunch) to go. The items looked quite tasty as they were being packed up (you can eat in, by the way, but it was about 4 0’clock, so a little early for eat-in diners). There is even a small sushi bar to pull up a stool and eat in as well. The menu items were diverse – ranging from sushi, sashimi and bento boxes to a very long list of Chinese and Japanese items sure to please many palates (including those who may not care for Jasmine).
The flavor of the tea was lovely and as always, I love the weird little Bubble things that I eat during the drink as well as suck up afterwards with the straw on steroids.
I brought the take-out menu home and definitely plan to bring Mr. HowChow back to try their other offerings.
6250 Columbia Crossing Circle
Columbia, MD 21045
NEAR: Ichiban is in the Columbia Crossing shopping center. This is off Rte 175 at Dobbin Road. There is near the Joseph A. Banks and across from the Dick's sporting goods.