TKettle in the East Village reopened earlier this week—now with more seating and full table service, as well as a takeout counter. A look at the menu immediately brings to mind nearby Saint's Alp on Third Avenue.
TKettle is best known for their bubble drinks; if you plan to get the classic milk tea, stick with Saint's Alp. Here, you should aim for the more fun drinks, like yogurt shakes, slushes and milkshakes ($3.95). Plus another $.50 for tapioca, jelly, or pudding. Bonus point for stocking Avocado Milkshakes—one of my favorite things to drink, and, except for Mikey's Burgers and Baoguette, not too often found outside of Vietnamese restaurants.
The whole food menu isn't available yet—"Only the fried dishes," the waitress told me. So I went with the Fried Set ($8.88), which lets you pick three items from a set of nine, including calamari, tofu and sweet potato. Pictured above is a set with Basil Popcorn Chicken, Oyster Mushrooms, and Fish Cake, all bite-sized, all deep-fried, and tossed together like a big bowl of chips. This was just begging for a bowl of rice! Bentos and full-meal dishes will be offered in the next few days.
For dessert, there are Chinese waffles and fried mochi balls. The waffles are the same ones you can find off street carts in Chinatown, where they're $1 for 15 pieces. Here they come $3.99 for 20 pieces. Your choice, chocolate or vanilla. (Though I'd rather not pay quadruple Chinatown prices.)
Fried Mochi Balls ($2.99) are more interesting—different fillings stuffed inside a sphere of mochi, then deep-fried. There's four to an order, each one with a different filling: Black Sesame, Peanut, Lotus Paste, Red Bean. Or at least that's what the menu states; I ended up with two Red Beans and two Black Sesame. They've got minor service kinks to work out, but all in all, I wouldn't object to a return visit.