Boba Tea and Fast Food for Starving Students (Bethany Boba Tea House)

6 Jan

Caffeine and cheap grub, two basic ingredients for sustenance for the starving poor college/grad student.  Bethany Boba Tea House, located within walking distance to UT-Arlington, can provide both for under $5, and we’re not talking about coffee and donuts.  As the restaurant’s name suggests, Bethany is a destination for boba tea, also known as bubble tea, or flavored teas (sometimes with milk) with tapioca pearls.  The beverage originated in Taiwan and has been gaining popularity in the US in recent years.  For students looking for an alternative to crappy vending machine coffee sold in the library basement, Bethany can provide an energy boost via a sugary tea beverage with calories to spare (according to nutrition.com, the average boba tea has about 30 tapioca pearls and there is about 100 calories per 7 tapioca pearls).  That should be enough fuel to pull an all nighter for those dreaded midterms!  Still need more, you say?  Not to worry, Bethany also serves a mixed menu of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean fast food dishes along with some not so Asian items until 10:00pm daily.

The menu ranges wildly from spicy popcorn chicken ($2.50) to cold sesame noodles ($4.25) to kastu don ($5.25) to kimchi ($2.00).  With the few exceptions like the spicy popcorn chicken, the majority of the menu consists of rice and noodle plates ranging from $4 to $7, and that price includes a boba tea!  For fast food prices, Bethany cranks out some incredibly tasty Asian street food.  Take, for example, my favorite item at Bethany, a basic bowl of beef noodle soup ($4.95 including a cup green milk tea):

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It’s a monster sized bowl of steaming hot broth with al dente rice noodles, tender chunks of stewed beef, baby bok choy, and a sprinkle of finely chopped Taiwanese pickled greens for added flavor.  It’s the finest meal any poor grad student can ask for on a cold winter day for under $5, particularly when the source is within walking distance to campus.  Sure, the broth could be a tad richer.  But at 9:00pm on a rainy day while trapped on campus cramming away for finals, who am I to argue with this giant bowl of comfort?

Despite the immense popularity of the spicy popcorn chicken, I think the best items off of Bethany’s menu are the traditional fast/street foods of Chinese/Taiwanese origin (it’s not a coincidence, the owner is Taiwanese).  A simple panko-crusted, deep fried pork chop over rice ($4.99) is lovely with well seasoned crunchy batter and tender meat.  A plate of chicken curry rice ($4.95) has chunks of tender white meat chicken swimming in a curry gravy which lacked depth (guilty of one dimensional curry powder flavor).  Oyako don ($4.95, pictured below), Japanese style chicken and egg rice bowl with onions, had nice texture but was underseasoned and a bit on the bland side.

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Still, even with its minor shortcomings, it’s hard to argue with what a cafe like Bethany can mean to a college/grad student.  For the simple combination of tasty sustenance plus caffeinated beverage close to campus, Bethany Boba Tea House can’t be beat.  Skip the Taco Hell and Wendy’s, Bethany is where the real value is.

Rating: 3 / 5

Bethany Boba Tea House
705 W. Park Row Dr.
Arlington, TX 76013

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