One of A Kind Tea House

Rochelle and I were on a mission to get to One of A Kind Teahouse after reading Jessica Pasko’s write up of it in All Over Albany.
Dude. Tea. Yes. Do it.

Lemme say – mission successful! Traffic was light when we went in on Friday evening. They seemed used to take out/counter service, but we opted for a table next to the wall of fake bamboo. The interior is gorgeous. Personally, I think it’s a great addition to Chinese food options in the Albany area.

Some people might think the market is getting saturated, but this is unlike other restaurants. It’s more upscale, akin to the Chinese coffee/tea shops in NYC. Or think of it kind of like a fancier Chinese Starbucks (or Professor Java’s). Hong Kong Bakery is across the street with the bare bones take out minimal service authentic food. CCK & Shining Rainbow are also on the same street, but do more full family meals.

The food choices at One of A Kind Teahouse are both more condensed, and more versatile than others. They have curries, soups, a few meals, skewers, noodles, rice dishes, sandwiches – rather continental in comparison to other Chinese restaurants in the area.

Price-wise, it’s not the cheapest place in town, but on par with coffee shop / teahouse prices. Nothing will break the bank, but you know you’re paying a bit of a premium. It’s like going to Starbucks, only instead of having a $2-3 scone with your coffee, you’re Chinese and you have a few other snacks with your beverage.

I ordered the lychee smoothie. All smoothies are $2.95. Quite fair, seeing as how it was packed with lychee flavor and took me my entire meal to finish it. And I’m no slow drinker. If it’s in front of me I sip at it until it’s gone. I also liked the colorful strips of chewy things. I forget their proper name, but they’re tasty.

You can see Rochelle’s mango bubble tea in the background. She tried asking if the papaya was red or green, but our server didn’t understand what she was asking (language barrier), so R got the mango. Also $2.95 for all bubble teas.

Albany John got a green tea smoothie. His cup was noticably less full than mine. *shrugs* It is very light – not too sweet or anything. I’m glad I didn’t get it. I would have wanted more sugar. But he enjoyed it very much since he has a low sweet tooth. Would be perfect in these 90 F + degree days though. My lychee smoothie was more creamy, and this green tea smoothie was very refreshing.

Albany John ordered a soup. Cute cover, no?

It was a shrimp and mushroom soup. Tasty mushrooms. Not overcooked or anything. It came out piping hot. I was classy and did the “spit it back in the spoon because it’s burning my mouth” technique.

R’s tofu dish came with veggies. Dude, this was awesome sauce. Some very pillowy and unctuous tofu. Seriously soft and custardy interior, with a nicely fried shell casing. Sweetish-salty miso sauce covering it. Veggies on the side to accompany.

R’s squid. This was the skewer order. Not a bad price. It was very tender, and tasted quite buttery. It was just the body, no tentacles. We are thinking those were fried lumpia or spring roll wrappers. Just a little sweeter and thinner than eggroll/wonton wrappers.
The sauce was really sweet and gloppy. I think it was the house sauce. They said it was really popular, but I don’t know… I don’t know a lot of other Asians that would like it. It had a very noticeable corn syrup flavor, and it kind of resembled the duck sauce you get out of the packets at cheap Chinese take out joints in terms of texture. Just way too sweet and processed for me.

I got the spicy chicken wings, which weren’t really spicy. There was some heat, but the sauce was again a bit too gloppy-sweet for my liking. I was hoping for a dry powder or something. It was a little too much sweet-n-sour. They came out nice and crisp, though. I love how crispy Asians get their wings! As time wore on they got soggy, so eat them while they’re hot.
Grilled lamb salad. I had no idea what ‘salad’ meant to them, so I figured I’d give it a try. At the worst, it would be iceberg lettuce, and at best, well, it would be something I’d never tried before.

I didn’t hype myself up too much, and it was an interesting salad to try. Chopped lamby slices over iceberg lettuce, mixed with some carrots, cherry tomatoes, and red bell peppers. They served both the house sauce (top left corner) and the spicy garlic sauce (bottom right corner) since we were new. The house sauce was the same as with the squid. Not a fan. The garlic sauce wasn’t spicy, but it went much better with the salad. It tasted more like seasoned soy sauce to me. Not bad, but not spicy or garlicky either.

I’d steer clear from the salads – it’s a little too Americanized for me. I will try the lamb in other forms though. Probably grilled skewer style next.

Like the lighting? R’s Droid was awesome at providing additional light for my pictures. Now I want one!

Alb John got the beef curry. And dude. Between this and the tofu Rochelle got… I want their babies. If you get nothing else, get these two.

The curry sauce is so well flavored – rich, full bodied, a nice coconut accent. I don’t usually like coconut milk curries because they can be too sweet. But this. Oh man, it was good. Dudes, much like a newly minted lottery winner in a strip club, I felt ecstatic to be in the same room as this soup. It was chock full of beef and veggies – a good combination of both. We could have used a side of rice or something to sop up the tasty liquids at the bottom. I’m surprised we didn’t use our straws. That. Good.

The curry came with four demure triangles of scallion pancake. I WANT TEN OF THESE. They might look oily, but were flaky beyond belief. So tender. So many layers of crispy flaky goodness. I don’t know how they did it. Mine end up with a completely different (more toothsome) when I make them at home. Next time I’m going to see if they can make them as a dish alone, because seriously, I could eat ten of them.
So there you have a light meal at One of A Kind Teahouse. It’s good for chatting and catching up. Our server was very friendly, we had a great time. She even put up with Albany John practicing his Chinese!
I think it would be wonderful for small groups to meet up – very relaxing, you can get a little noshies, and a beautiful location to enjoy a tasty beverage and some snacks.
Oh, and as a funny overheard convo while we were there:
Girl: Is this a Chinese place? I want Chinese food.
Guy: Yeah, yeah it’s a Chinese place. Hello.
Girl: I don’t see no Chinese food here! And I want some damn Chinese food!! If they don’t have any Chinese food I don’t wanna eat here!!
Guy: Have you even read the menu? Look, look, right here – fried rice. C’mon, it’s Chinese.
(I’d like to add that they were practically sitting under the mandoline decoration on the wall, and the restaurant was playing Chinese music. I really wonder what kind of a restaurant she thought she was in, or what kind of Chinese she is used to [General Tso’s?])
  1. I was peeking in the windows of that place the other day on my way out of Van's! I can't wait to check it out!

  2. JN said:

    Great review and great photos! I can't wait to try this place!

  3. All right, now I am officially intrigued. The Boy & I were pursuing the menu when we went to The Linda last month.

  4. When I go back I have to try the smoothies. But that was a good bubble tea.

  5. Mari said:

    This restaurant looks really great. If I were in Albany, I definetely go there!!

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