The Asian tea house trend is here.
Actually, a few tea houses have been in Fresno and Clovis for a while, but we’ve got enough of them now that they officially fall into the category of local foodie trend you should know about.
The latest and perhaps the one making the biggest splash is Taipei 101 – a bright orange and green tea house with lots of creative food and drinks and several generations of Taiwanese immigrants who eagerly want to share their culture with you.
It opened quietly in May at 6702 N. Cedar Ave. near Herndon. It joins the 1920 Tea Club at Palm and Bullard avenues in Fresno and Quickly at 701 W. Shaw Ave. near Willow Avenue in Clovis, along with other places that focus more on tea. Like the others, Taipei has a coffee shop feel, with free wifi, small meals and that feel-free-to-linger feeling.
In Taiwan, there’s 10 tea houses on every street.
Manager Sunny Lin
At Taipei 101, the menu runs the gamut from boba tea to coffee with sea salt in it, an indulgent sweet toast for dessert and their version of popcorn chicken.
Some of these things will be new to Fresno diners. But the managers are eager to explain and share their food with you, so asking lots of questions and bringing a few friends to share is totally appropriate.
And just in case the menu is too intimidating, there’s always curly fries on the kids menu.
Taipei 101 is named after a skyscraper of the same name in Taipei, Taiwan that is one of the tallest in the world.
There is far too much on the menu to explain here, but here are some highlights.
▪ Sweet toast: The No. 1 seller is this dessert toast (nothing like the toast you eat for breakfast) made with either fresh fruit or colorful French macaron cookies, both served with ice cream. It’s $12 but easily feeds four.
▪ Glacier coffee: Iced coffee with a foam made with whipped cream that is blended with sea salt, a combination of flavors that works surprisingly well. It can be made with black or green tea, too.
▪ Taiwanese street food: This includes everything from a spiced-up version of popcorn chicken to fried tofu and crepes. A tea egg is an artsy hard-boiled egg that had its shell cracked, but is kept intact so it can be cooked in black tea and soy sauce, the flavors seeping in and creating a marbled effect.
▪ Teas: All kinds of teas are on the menu, including tea with boba, the little tapioca balls you drink through a big straw. There’s milk tea in flavors from hazelnut to taro and made with whole or soy milk.
Bubble tea is made by shaking the tea, not from the round boba that can be in it. You also can get flavored jelly mixed in – flavored, gelatin-like little squares – or pudding that is mixed into the drink. You can even get them in a jumbo 32-ounce glass.
Taipei 101 also serves a drink that blends Pepsi and coffee.
The food and drinks are ones that the owners and managers grew up with and took multiple trips back to Taiwan to perfect.
“In Taiwan, there’s 10 tea houses on every street,” says manager Sunny Lin. “When we first moved to Fresno it was really shocking because there wasn’t as much Asian culture.”
So they decided to bring a bit of their culture here. In fact, they’re trying to create a “Little Taiwan” in their corner of the shopping center, which also has Heaven & Earth, an art and furniture store with Taiwanese connections.
Taipei 101 is near the the R-N Market and Hunan Chinese Restaurant and shares some of the same partners with Hunan.
Taipei is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.