The teas at One of A Kind Teahouse

One of a kind teahouse outside

The One of a Kind Teahouse -- in the Chinatown building on Central Ave.

By Jessica Pasko

I'm a sucker for a good bubble tea.

Something about that sweet milky concoction of tea and flavoring with the tapioca pearls swimming in it is just oh-so-appealing.

I've been getting my fix at the Good Leaf Tea Co. or the Hong Kong Bakery on Central Avenue, but now that I've discovered the One of A Kind Teahouse, well, my bubble tea heart has been stolen.

So far the only two occupants of the "Chinatown" building next to Van's Vietnamese Restaurant are the One of A Kind Teahouse and a store that sells a strange amalgamation of items including sunglasses, purses, hookahs, cell phones and immigration documents. The folks behind the Chinatown project say they're working to fill the other spaces but aren't completely sure yet what will wind up there.

Chinatown Sign.jpg

But back to the One of A Kind Teahouse, which opened about three months ago. Though I can't vouch entirely for its singularity, it's definitely unlike anywhere else I've been in Albany.

The Decor

One of a kind teahouse inside.JPG

The décor manages to ride the delicate line between tasteful and gaudy with remarkable success. Two giant carved lions greet you at the building's entrance before you walk into a dark wood hallway festooned with bamboo and other festive paraphernalia. Small dark wooden tables with backless chairs take up the bulk of the restaurant space, which has Chinese instruments hung on the wall, hanging red lanterns and, somewhat inexplicably, two giant plasma screen wall-mounted televisions, one of which was tuned into the Food Channel when I was there.

The food

Fried squid.jpg

dumplings.jpg

The food is okay. It's technically pan-Asian and the price is certainly right. A half-dozen dumplings will run you about $5 and a large mango-lamb-curry dish with rice was $8.50 (and I definitely had leftovers). The grilled calamari ($4.95) was some of the most tender squid I've ever tasted. The menu also includes a few noodle dishes, salads, and grilled sandwiches, among other items.

The tea

bubble teaThis is really the reason to go to the One of a Kind Teahouse.

While the mango green tea (served hot in a tall slender glass with fruit at the bottom and the requisite paper umbrella,) was a little sweet for my tastes (it's not just flavored tea, but rather, tea mixed with mango juice), my papaya bubble tea was everything I wanted in a bubble tea. Delicately colored with perfect little black orbs of tapioca residing at the bottom of a tall glass of papaya-tea-milk mixture that managed to be just sweet enough without the cloying taste of some bubble tea mixes I've had previously. On a hot day, I'd love to come in and sit down with a $2.95 glass of this.

There are also a variety of smoothies (including lychee and green tea) along with iced and hot coffee. You can get all the tea/coffee drinks to go too, but then you don't get the little paper umbrella. If being a sucker for a cutesy little garnish is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Other bubble tea flavors include taro, mango, mocha, strawberry and basic black.

Bottom line: OoaKTH is something of a little oasis from the nitty-gritty of lower Central Avenue. Sitting in that little room and sipping my colorful tea drink through a pink straw made me feel miles away from downtown Albany. And sometimes, much as I love our hometown, that's a blessed thing.

If only I'd remembered to bring a book...

Find It

One of A Kind Teahouse
305 Central Ave.
Albany, NY 12206

Telephone: 729-3067
Hours: M-F, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Saturday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Comments

I found these guys on facebook last night. The pictures of the interior look amazing. I can't wait to get down there and check it out.

Oasis sounds about right. Hooray! Can't wait to get bubble tea in an actual glass!

I went there with my mom a few months ago. The food was good and, as you said, certainly priced right. Try the house crispy rolls. They are fantastic! And the sauce they come with...oh my it was great.

Do you know if their bubble tea uses dairy or coconut milk?

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