Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Home Plate Boba, AT&T Park

Update Review, September 2016

Last time I attended a ball game at AT&T Park, I discovered Home Plate Boba, and I was pretty excited.  I like bubble tea, but it is a treat I rarely splurge on (and, maybe TMI, but, my body doesn't always, uh, agree with non-dairy creamer commonly used).  On that visit, I didn't actually get a bubble tea.  It was hot and sunny, so I opted for a taro smoothie instead (and I grabbed a fruity tea to take home with me).

Both were ok, but, on this visit, I decided to mix things up a bit.
Menu / Ordering Area.
The menu at Home Plate Boba looks relatively unchanged, still featuring hot and cod milk teas, fresh fruit teas, and smoothies (I'm still confused why the hot taro milk tea has caffeine, and the cold one does not).  Options for flavors aren't extensive, and toppings only include boba, passion fruit popping boba, mango stars, and lychee jelly.  They still include one topping in the base price for every drink but drink prices have gone up $1-2 since last year.
Oreo Smoothie with Boba. $8.
Since it was a remarkably hot, sunny day, I picked a smoothie.  Last time I had a taro smoothie, and although I thought it was well made, but I made a note to get another kind next time, since the taro powder used wasn't very flavorful.  My options were strawberry banana (meh), honeydew (allergic), matcha green tea (which I'd love but I didn't want caffeine), or Oreo.

So, Oreo it was.  I'm not generally a fan of Oreo.  At least, just not the cookies.  Which I know makes my dad sad, as he loves them, and my house was always stocked with them growing up.  But, "cookies and cream" or other Oreo products I do like.  So, Oreo flavor good, form factor bad, as I just don't like cookies in general.

The Oreo flavor in this was good, and I saw bags of Oreos back in the preparation area, so I'm pretty sure they really do throw in real Oreos.  The ice was nicely blended too.  It was creamy and nicely flavored, and I liked the bits of texture from the ice and cookie.

Since I had one included topping, I wanted to add something fun, but, really, I just wanted it to be like a milkshake and have whipped cream on top.  I didn't like the boba last time, so I wanted something different.  Passionfruit popping boba seemed like it would totally not work with Oreo, and mango stars also seemed crazy, so I ordered it with lychee jellies, but the guy taking my order acted like that was crazy.  "With Oreo?", he questioned.  He talked me out of it and told me to get boba.  So I did.

The boba was not a success.  Just like last time, they were mushy and poorly cooked.  And they added tons of them.  And you just can't avoid boba once it is in a drink, they come up the straw no matter how hard you try to avoid them.

Overall, this was great, except, ruined by boba.  I'd gladly get it again and just leave the boba out entirely, sacrificing my "free" topping.

The $8 price is more than it was last year, but still seems pretty reasonable for a huge smoothie, with topping, at a ballpark.
Taro Milk Tea, No Ice, Lychee Jelly. $6.50.
As last time, I decided to grab a second drink to bring home with me, since I had a bunch of credit on my ticket.  The fruity tea last time was fine, but not particularly exciting.  I obviously couldn't bring home a hot drink or smoothie, so, regular milk tea it was.  I opted for no ice since I was bringing it home, which they questioned multiple times when I ordered.

For milk tea, I had 5 choices of flavors, but only one wasn't caffeinated (coffee, thai tea, black tea, and chai were the others).  Since I love taro anyway, that is what I would have picked, but, since I knew they use powder like in the smoothies, I wasn't super excited for it.

For a topping, I put in the lychee jellies, since enjoyed them last time, clearly didn't want boba, and lychee seemed to go better with taro than mango.

It was a very standard, made from powder, taro milk tea.  Creamy, way too sweet (they do not allow you to specify sweetness), and vaguely taro flavored.  I liked it well enough, but, it wasn't anything special.

The lychee jellies were good, ridiculously sweet, lychee flavored, and had a nice chew.  They went well with the taro, except for the fact that it was all really quite sweet.  They seemed to have made up for my lack of ice with adding even more jellies, there really were quite a few of them, but, I liked them, so I didn't mind.

I added ice and some regular milk to mellow it out when I got home and enjoyed it a bit more than way.

I'd get this again, although it was really not particularly remarkable.  I think my next version should be a taro smoothie, with lychee jellies?

Original Review, October 2015

AT&T Park has been known for having far better food options than your standard ballpark for a long time.  Several years ago, I visited for my first time, and reveled in the amazing crab salad at Crazy Crab'z.  Yes, amazing crab, at a ballpark.  I also tried many of the fan favorites, like the Chicago dog and the Gilroy garlic fries, although those didn't impress quite as much.  And of course, I had my share of margaritas from Lefty O'Doul's and wine from the slightly upscale Vintage 58 Wine Bar.

But on my visit this year, I had my sights set on something else.  Bubble tea.  Yes, bubble tea.  At a ballpark.  OMG.  You know how obsessed I get with bubble tea ...

The Space

The Stand.
It took me a while to find Home Plate Boba amongst all the concessions, but once I turned the corner and saw the sign, it was clear I had found the right place.  Bright, colorful, whimsical.  It didn't quite fit in.
Menu.
The menu includes basically everything you'd expect from a bubble tea shop.

For an all-too-typical San Francisco chilly day, they have hot drinks of coffee, tea, milk tea, and hot cocoa, all $6.

Next are classic milk teas (black, green, or jasmine tea based), plus flavored milk teas (almond, mint, taro, thai, coffee).  These all use nondairy milk.  I appreciated that they clearly marked which ones were caffeinated or not.  These are also $6.

Next come fruit based teas, all with caffeine.  They must use black tea as a base?  Or green?  No option was given, but when I asked, I was told they all definitely have caffeine.  Fruit teas are made with syrups, plus some cubes of fruit, available in lychee, mango, passion, peach, and strawberry, all $6.50.

Tempting sounding smoothies round out the drink options, available in coconut, honeydew, matcha green tea, mint oreo, oreo, strawberry banana, and taro.

All drinks included a topping for free, with a choice of standard boba, lychee jelly, or flavored popping boba.

Finally, they also offer up a few desserts: ice cream sandwiches (which one co-worker had and said was great), macaron ice cream sandwiches, and just ice cream with boba on top.
Straws.
Once you make the hard decision of choosing your drink, anther decision awaits.  The choice of straw.  Orange and black for the home team, assorted colors for visitors.  What if I just wanted a purple straw, because it matched my drink?  I didn't want to be judged for rooting for the away team, but I really would prefer a non-black or orange straw ...

Life is hard.

The Drinks

Taro Smoothie, with Boba. $7.50.
I adore taro, so my choice was fairly simple.  I wanted a taro based drink.  As for a milk tea or smoothie, that was dictated by the weather.  It was sunny and warm, thus, a more chilly smoothie seemed in order.

It was very well blended, no chunks of ice.  It had a decent light purple hue.  Not tons of taro flavor, but, what do you expect from powder?

The boba was nicely prepared, soft, not clumpy.  Clearly sweetened with honey.  For some reason, I didn't actually like the boba in my drink, and choose to drink it like a milkshake, and purposely kept my straw closed too tight to suck up boba.  But once the smoothie was gone, I gladly slurped up all the boba, like pudding.  The boba was sweet and tender, quite enjoyable.

I liked this well enough, particularly once I separated it into two parts: taro icy dessert and boba dessert.  I'd get another, but would actually likely try something different, like the mint oreo smoothie.

The $7.50 price was reasonable compared to other prices in the ballpark, but is higher than your average Quickly.  Speaking of Quickly, it reminded me a lot of the taro slush I had there once.
Mango Fruit Tea, with Lychee Jelly. $6.50.
I still had some money left on my ticket near the end of the game, so I grabbed a fruit tea to go.  With the sealed top, I could throw it in my purse, stick it in the fridge when I got home, and just add ice the next day, and enjoy it in the sun.  I'm always planning ahead.

There were 5 fruit tea choices, all of which sounded good: lychee, mango, passionfruit, peach, or strawberry.  I would have been happy with any, but decided mango sounded the best.  I haven't had much fruit tea, but way back in the day I used to enjoy the mango iced tea at Pizzeria Uno, so it inspired me.  I added lychee instead of boba, as it seemed more appropriate with the fruit based drink.

I asked for no ice, since I wasn't drinking it right away, and didn't want to dilute it.

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw chunks of mango in the drink.  I expected it to just be made with a syrup (which, I'm sure it was), but the additional fruit was most welcome.

It was sweet, fruity, with a not too bitter tea based finish.  Perfectly refreshing on a hot day.  The mango wasn't the freshest, ripest, or most flavorful, but I still give them points for putting bits of mango in it in the first place.

I really did like the lychee jelly, sweet, slimy, and easy to suck up with my big straw.  I think jellies might be my new favorite bubble tea add-in.

The $6.50 price was $1 less than a smoothie, but $0.50 more than a milk tea.  It seemed perfectly reasonable for the large size and ball park location.
Home Plate Boba Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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