Cheap and cheerful describes the new Tea Plus in Kingsford. A predominantly student venue it serves up enormous bowls of beef noodle soup or saucy pork on rice. And the prices? Well they're a surprise in the best way!
I'm the sort of person that apologises when I turn up to a catch up with a friend in casual gear. So I feel woefully under-dressed when I sit down next to two girls in Lolita outfits, one with a baby pink bag with the word "Baby" on it. I'm having lunch with Dear Reader Jaqi. She's my lookout scout for the Kingsford area as she works at UNSW and a week ago she asked if I wanted to have lunch at Tea Plus. The lure? Taiwanese food.
Kingsford has really changed in the last 7-8 years or so. It used to be dominated by Indonesian restaurants to cater for Indonesian students. Nowadays the food is more Taiwanese and Chinese and at the uni Jaqi used to teach mainly Indonesian students but now they're mostly Chinese. And Tea Plus is definitely a student favourite.
Everything is well priced from the dishes that start at $5.90 and there is cutesy Japanese hand written signs. We nab a table (get there early if you can) and line up at the counter to order.
We've over-ordered so much that the two Lolitas next to us giggle and give us a look. Jaqi engages them in conversation about Lolita outfits while I photograph the food that comes one at a time. Most people don't order like we do, they usually get a bowl of something (usually the pork and rice or the beef noodle soup) and eat their own.
Original Plant Milk Tea $5.80
Oh I forgot to mention the menu didn't I? It's huge, like paralysingly huge. We flick from photos to a listing and then back and um and ah. And we haven't even gotten onto the drinks which are a bit confusing truth be told. We just ordered the Plant Milk Tea, a sweet milky tea much like a Japanese one with a frothy cream layer and crushed Oreas meant to look like a pot plant. It's not bad at all and has cute presentation to boot. You can also specify what level of sweetness you would like which I love as an option as I sometimes find things to sweet (says the girl that loves pavlova, Turkis delight and baklava lol).
Snack plate 3 for $12
There was a bit of confusion here and we ended up with one item that we didn't order (the takoyaki, we wanted the tamago with flying fish roe) but the first to arrive is a three parter snack plate where you can choose 3 from a list of 5 snacks. We have the crunchy basil chicken which is laced with a moreish seasoning mix-definitely a must order. The wasabi prawn balls are strong in wasabi while the squid balls are bouncy and served with a sweet chilli sauce.
Small Pork on Rice $6.50
Bowls of this pork are on many tables and it comes as a small or large serve, the large being very large indeed. It's a bowl of white rice topped with a chopped pork, sauce, half a soy sauce egg and halved bok choy. It's comforting and homely and it reminds me of something that my mother makes. I'm sure it reminds some students of their home.
Beef Noodle Soup $11.80
This is one of those wonderful cavernous bowls of soup that you can bury yourself in during winter. It's a beef broth with tomato and pieces of boneless soft beef brisket and vegetables along with slippery noodles. Try as we might we can't even get a handle on this enormous bowl and end up taking it away (FYI takeaway containers are 20c each).
Cheese and mushroom pancake $6.50
To be honest the only thing we don't really go for is the cheese and mushroom pancake. It's mostly a rolled up omelette with a bit of mushroom and a bit of cheese and it's quite dry.
There's no room for dessert and the drinks are almost like a dessert anyway and the slushes take the place of a dessert. And at just over $20 a person I can see repeat visits in the future. I'm psychic like that ;)
So tell me Dear Reader, have you tried much Taiwanese food? And when given the choice do you usually go for the small or large size? And do you prefer rice or noodles?
This meal was independently paid for.
486 Anzac Parade, Kingsford NSW 2032 (also a Burwood location)
Phone: (02) 9663 4098
Open 11am-9pm, closed Mondays