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Check out our archive of Dining Guides - Yum!

Bubble tea, pho and swish swish
December 28, 2012, 05:00 AM By Jon Mays Daily Journal staff
Downtown San Mateo never fails to surprise me. There is always something new in that patch of the city so central to the lives of its residents. In recent months, there has been a surge of bubble tea locations, with the most popular one being T-Pumps on B Street. The lines are always out the door. Combine that with Old Town Sushi and its ubiquitous lines and it’s one crowded corner at First and B. But lo and behold, word is that another bubble tea place is opening just a few doors down where Sweet Orchid, a gelato and dessert place, just shut down. That spot allows seating, which T-Pumps currently does not have. And right next to that spot is Flow Salon, a brand-new hip haircuttery place that my head has no need for, but will surely be a place for many. Just a few doors south is a new place called "Street Food” nearly right across from Curry Up Now, which is deemed Indian Street Food. Street food seems to be all the rage on B Street. At Street Food on B Street, you will be able to buy a chicken wing for about $1.50 amid other delicacies such as beef lungs in garlic sauce for about $8. And it’s open late for all of you with a penchant for late-night nibbles after quaffing down some large cups of bubble tea.

Street Food took the place of Pho Garden, which closed down even with its offer of super large bowls of Vietnamese deliciousness.

Speaking of pho, it looks as if Pho’ Miss Saigon on Third Avenue may be getting new owners and they have a mind to change the name to Vespucci, which I’m assuming is an Italian place. So we will have two Italian places within a block of each other on Third Avenue, including Acqua Pazza at San Mateo Drive, which took the place of a Vietnamese place after it had a fire.

But does it mean that we aren’t supporting pho places downtown? At least there is Saigon City on Third on the other side of the railroad tracks. That place is a mainstay. Another development is the expansion of shabu shabu, which translates to, I think, swish swish, which is what you do with the thinly cut meat in the hot broth in front of you to cook it. Shabuway has found a spot on Third right next to Miss Saigon and is crowded most nights. Most recently, it appears as if a new, and bigger, place will be opening on Third and San Mateo Drive at the former Collin’s Pharmacy site (I’m dating myself with this landmark reference, but here’s an earlier one — the former Noah’s Ark restaurant site). It is to be called Zabu Zabu, which has a location already in Berkeley and characterizes itself as a Japanese fondue place with a motto of "All U Can Shabu Shabu & Sushi.” Sounds promising.

So if bubble tea is your thing, and you want to go swish swish into the night, then downtown San Mateo is the place for you.


Jon Mays is the editor of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jon@smdailyjournal.com. Follow Jon on Twitter @jonmays.


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