The fact that I had been left with an empty fridge and the inability to drive and purchase groceries to sustain myself meant sheer starvation. But desperate times call for desperate measures: not being to withstand the shakiness-inducing rumbling from the pit of my stomach, I dressed and bolted out the door around quarter to three.
Within twenty five minutes, I arrived at Banzai Sushi, a late-night sushi joint that had made waves on several online articles for being one of Richmond's "best cheap eats".
Making my entrance at 3pm, I almost suffered a slight heart attack at witnessing the emptiness of the dimly-lit establishment.
"Are you open?" I inquired earnestly, for I was about to collapse from hunger at any given moment.
"Yes, we're open." responded the man at the reception desk. "Waiting for you."
"Ha! That's an amusing answer." I thought, cracking a smile while gazing at the various menu options.
I took a liking to their House Roll, which was available in a "half order" for $6.00 or "full order" for $11.00. The staff member appeared slightly dubious when I chose the half order, but didn't question me further. Before a total of five minutes had even passed, the House Roll had been prepared with incredulous speed and laid before my eyes.
(Side: I recall an occasion where the restaurant had been brimming with customers at a late hour, leading us to order takeout instead. Banzai also focuses heavily in this aspect, as they note special discounts on their menu for giving prior notice on party trays: 10% off when orders are placed one day in advance and 5% off when placed two hours before. With prices already being economic though, this is really more than customers could ask for.)
Along the way, though, I noticed the lineup forming at Shiny Tea. The new bubble tea counter was located on the second floor of Aberdeen Square, just above Estea. I re-analyzed my options, and opted to join in on the hype before heading home to continue the backlog-minimizing process.
Immediately after queuing, I noticed that the line moved painfully slowly. There were a total of four members of staff taking orders and crafting beverages - this was equivalent to Chatime's staff count during off-peak/mid-peak hours, yet the number of customers did not exhibit any signs of decreasing. I soon realized the issue at hand when my turn to order finally arrived.
"Number 1...HanLin Creation?" the cap-donning server said.
"Yes. Can I get 1, 3, and 4?"
There was a brief pause of confusion at the other end.
"...So you want a Number 1 HanLin Creation?" Her non-native English accent began to peek through.
"Yes." My patience was falling sharply.
"Medium or large?"
"Ok, sugar and ice?"
"50% sugar and less ice"
"Is that everything?"
Resisting the immense urge to roll my eyes I restated my orders a third time, but this time with a noticeable edge in my voice. Taking a deep breath, I grimly uttered, "I want Number 1, 3, and 4. ALL medium, all 50% sugar, and all with less ice."
"You said 30% for the first drink."
"..No. I want 50%."
"Can I get a bag please?" I reminded her, tucking the receipt away. Of course, her ears were much too clogged to perceive any of it.
The timer was counting down as I had a bus to catch in the next two minutes. That being said, I was practically driven past the point of threshold annoyance as she stood inverting my last drink with sloth-like movements.
Number 3 Honey Tieguanyin was the winner among the trio - the simple concoction of bitter Oolong mixed with subtle punches of honey was fragrant, flavourful, and very well received. Hands down, I'll be re-purchasing this one. (It also happened to be the most budget-friendly of them all!)
Number 4 White Pearl Lemon Green was essentially a lemon-flavoured green tea with sago pearls. The drink was refreshing, but otherwise none too memorable as it lacked a defining flavour.