Tampa Bay Food Monster

...eating food since 1985.

DDrinkz Smoothies & Sweeties


remember boba? REMEMBER BOBA?? remember that shit. it’s still good. and it’s still alive. people are still making new boba places! so the fad didn’t die way back in 2009. at least not at DDRINKZ.

ddrinkz inside

oh god the place is called ddrinkz. there’s a z in there. and am i… am i supposed to pronounce the d? “dee-drinks”? “d’drinks”? i don’t know. it was confusing. but i suppose it’s inconsequential. all i really care about is that there’s a brand new boba place in the area! that makes, what? three now? four if you count the shitty one? tampa must be really moving up in the world!

so ddrinkz popped up about a month ago, on waters near dale mabry. it’s in a little plaza next to the saigon deli (as pictured above), and lien hoa oriental market. i suspect that perhaps all these places are owned by the same people, as there seemed to be a lot of travel between the three by employees and small children who appeared to be just “hangin’ out”. ddrinkz itself is fairly tiny, with the counter and kitchen taking up the majority of the space, and to the side a small seating area. there are a couple little televisions, and they were blasting sexy dance music. it was like a club.

in addition to serving boba, ddrinkz also serves pastries, sweets, bánh mì, and soups. the lone customer in the shop was stooped over a giant bowl of some sort of noodley soup, and it looked delicious. I WANT DEM SOUPS. but i couldn’t have dem soups on this particular visit, as i had just gorged myself on cuban cuisine. so it was all bobas.

taro milk tea

i purchased my standard taro milk tea. (make sure to specify milk tea, as their standard order seems to be smoothies.) this shop uses milk tea powders, as is common among boba shops. i could tell that they are still getting used to running the shop, having to place my and my friend’s orders separated by the making of the first drink, and having observed a bit of faltering in the making of said tea. but they came out looking as they should, which was a good sign.

the tea itself was decent; it had the right flavor (i guess hard to miss with a powder), but was not nearly as thick as i prefer my taro milk tea. i like that shit frothy. it was actually on the watery side… it could have used a lot more powder. but it was more than drinkable. my friend had ordered the jade tea, which seemed to have been made with just the right amount of powder, and had a sweet, floral flavor. much better than mine.

dat boba

the real gem here was the boba. they were perfect, sweet little balls. perfectly chewy. no trace of starchiness, but in no way melty. stand out, really. solid friggin bobas. they almost seemed too perfect, like they were mass produced. or cloned. i was really surprised at the quality. on top of that, they had an almost fruity sweetness to them rather than the typical syrupy sugar sweet, which i appreciated. they may not be my favorite bobas (lollicup), but they are unique and at least worth a try.

so the place was good. the staff was really cool, and they joked with us and forced us to “check in” on facebook. they also mentioned that they sometimes do karaoke. in the shop, that is. there’s a small karaoke machine that apparently they use friday and saturday nights, or whenever there’s a large enough group to warrant it. so that’s fun! it’s a nice, simple environment, with good boba. i’ll be back. you should be back, too. let’s go do karaoke there, guys.

Ddrinkz Smoothies & Sweeties on Urbanspoon

The Vet 2010 – The Black Swan

the vet, 2010

veterans day is my favorite holiday. it’s just the best. of course, i actively celebrate veterans day, unlike most people i know. unlike all people i know, actually, except one. in fact, my friend and i may be the only two people in the world who really celebrate veterans day.

oh and before i get too much further, this has nothing to do with veterans. except maybe veterans of veterans day.

it all started in fall of 2003. i had just started my first semester of college, and we were pretty far into it. i was in the middle of work for some final projects in a few classes, and i was getting burnt out. actually, i was always kinda burnt out… not a big fan of work. so when i noticed that we had the day off for veterans day, i was more than happy to take full advantage of the fact. i called my friend who also happened to have the day off, and we resigned ourselves to hang out.

and hang out we did.

we had no plan. we just got together and drove. away from the real world. to anywhere but there. we drove up florida, stopping when and where we wanted, whenever the mood struck us. we started north. we drove through gainesville. we drove over the st. john’s river. we ended up in jacksonville, hung around downtown a bit, and then went to neptune beach, grabbed some pizza, and walked on the beach. then we bought some techno cds and blasted them as we drove back home on i4, and ended our day. exactly 560 miles of freedom.

we decided then that each year we would take veterans day off, and just do whatever we wanted. follow our hearts, and just enjoy ourselves, totally free of obligation and worry. live in the moment, and take joy in the simple things. it was no longer veterans day – it was the vet.

we’ve done it each year since. no year is quite the same, some are more magical than others, but each is a unique experience and a reminder that life can sometimes be worth living. this year was no different.

we wound up in sanford, northeast of orlando. there we searched for someplace interesting to eat. we had consulted urbanspoon, and searched endlessly for the fabled burger bar. when we couldn’t find that, we hunted down riverwalk pizzeria, which we found, but was closed. disappointing. we were near the downtown area, and decided to check out hollerbach’s willow tree cafe, which tops the list of best restaurants in sanford. we got out of the car and found many people standing around the restaurant… which turned out to be closed.

god dammit.

but we asked a local dude if anywhere around downtown was still open, and he recommended two places: two blondes and a shrimp, and the black swan. when asked which he preferred, he stated “when you get to the turn for the black swan, flip a coin.” so of course we had to do this.

and so…

the black swan

it was the black swan by a tail. it turns out the black swan is pretty much just a bar. with karaoke. and crappy bar food! i looked over the menu and ordered the “drunken chicken” with buffalo sauce (they offered a variety of different sauces, including teriyaki and garlic), along with a “corn banger”(???) and a celebration ale. i was in for some surprises.

while we waited for our food, we drank some beer and i arm wrestled a couple old ladies. after i was swiftly beaten, i was informed to “never show weakness to a woman.” apparently it is a turn-off. note taken, scary drunken woman.

so the food came out, and i was a bit shocked to receive this:

drunken chicken with buffalo sauce

this is the drunken chicken. based on the assortment of sauces, i had foolishly assumed the drunken chicken was chicken wings. instead, it was a whole bunch of fried legs and thighs, drenched in sauce. wow. i tackled it, and i was not too impressed. the chicken was dry, despite all the crappy store-bought wing sauce (crystal?). it was somewhat well fried, though; it had that homemade fried chicken taste. its saving grace was that there was a shitload of it, for 7 bucks. not bad. but not good.

corn banger

annnd the corn banger. i had no idea what i was in for when i ordered it, i was just curious. it was basically a corn dog, with sausage instead of a hot dog (thus: “corn banger”). and it was strange as hell. the batter they used was a beer batter with actual pieces of corn in it, and i believe diced peppers as well; it was sweet and quite good. the sausage inside was very mild in flavor, but about your average sausage for taste. there was no spiciness to it, which i would have liked. but the combination of the two flavors, the sweet corn batter and the light sausage… it just freaked me out. i can’t explain it. it was good, but… just very different. i would eat one again, though.

i would not, however, return to the black swan. it really was just a pub, with pub food. nothing special. it was not hell, though the shame i felt when i was bested by that drunken grandma sure was.

PS: i slept with the grandma.

The Black Swan on Urbanspoon