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Tugo Tea - Taiwanese Snacks in Arlington Heights

Tugo Tea - Taiwanese Snacks in Arlington Heights
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  • Tugo Tea - Taiwanese Snacks in Arlington Heights

    Post #1 - May 6th, 2019, 7:21 am
    Post #1 - May 6th, 2019, 7:21 am Post #1 - May 6th, 2019, 7:21 am
    Only open a few months, and replacing a short-lived crepe and pierogi place, Tugo Tea is a tiny shop in the strip mall behind Target in Arlington Heights, and I anticipate will become a favorite of nearby Hersey High School students -- I know I'll be back.

    They offer assam, jasmine and oolong teas hot and cold, with any number of flavors and add-ins, and four 'snacks' -- popcorn chicken (not sure, but it looks fried with the thinnest of batters or dredge, with basil leaves); minced braised pork; chicken curry; and what I had, the beef noodle soup. None of the snacks are over $6, all are pretty good sized. When I was there, they had a special of the popcorn chicken plus a tea for $5.95.

    The beef noodle soup had tender beef chunks (reminding me of a red-braise), nice chew on the long noodles, bok choy, and a fantastic broth with bits of onion and other vegetables. There's a sambal-like chile paste available to kick it up (yeah, I did).

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    Service wasn't that fast -- they make everything to order except I'm guessing the broth, but friendly, with the owner visiting the tables and chatting with folks outside -- a woman said she drove from Evanston to eat there.

    I am not a big tea fan, but they had a few Asian soft drinks in a cold case, including a sarsaparilla which was very tasty - a bit of a licorice flavor over a typical root beer, and something that's so American I really didn't expect to see an Asian version.
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    Tugo Tea House
    1285 North Rand Road
    Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004
    (847) 873-1333
    https://www.facebook.com/tugoteahouse
    Hours 11AM-9PM Tue-Sun
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #2 - May 6th, 2019, 8:34 am
    Post #2 - May 6th, 2019, 8:34 am Post #2 - May 6th, 2019, 8:34 am
    JoelF wrote:a woman said she drove from Evanston to eat there.

    What's interesting about that is that Evanston has one of the tiny handful of explicitly Taiwanese restaurants in Chicagoland (527 Cafe), which also offers popcorn chicken, niu rou mian, and lu ro fan (among much else). Either this lady is unaware of it, or this is a very strong recommendation for Tugo Tea House.
  • Post #3 - May 6th, 2019, 8:40 am
    Post #3 - May 6th, 2019, 8:40 am Post #3 - May 6th, 2019, 8:40 am
    cilantro wrote:Either this lady is unaware of it, or this is a very strong recommendation for Tugo Tea House.


    or it could just be a random person trying out a new place.
  • Post #4 - June 15th, 2021, 1:41 pm
    Post #4 - June 15th, 2021, 1:41 pm Post #4 - June 15th, 2021, 1:41 pm
    Had been wanting to try it for a while, and finally stopped for lunch today. I was early and therefore alone, which allowed for a bit of chatting. I was there for the Taiwan Beef Noodle Soup, as it's pretty iconic.

    I ordered the 16 oz. bowl, which is now $11. There is also a 24 oz. option for $14.50. But 16 oz. was enough for me. I was offered hot chili oil, which was more of a paste and is likely the condiment Joel mentions. The soup was rich and flavorful without it, but the spice was a nice addition, both for the bit of heat but also to cut the richness of the broth. Chunks of beef were incredibly tender. Baby bok choy added color. And the abundant noodles were chewy and delicious.

    I'd struck up a conversation with owner Gerald while we waited for his wife, Jessica, to pull the soup together. It is Jessica who is from Taiwan, though Gerald has been there often. Tugo is the name of the small town where Jessica's family farm is located.

    I had only been eating for a few minutes when Jessica came out to ask if I was happy with the soup. I told her I was and said the broth showed evidence of long cooking. This made her happy, and she smiled, bowed, and launched into a quick description: "Yes. I come in morning. Chop, chop, chop. Everything fresh. Cook for three hours." I assured her that her efforts were very much appreciated.

    The menu also offers braised minced pork bowl and potstickers, as well as a few Tugo's Bento Boxes, with such combinations as popcorn chicken with Taiwanese sausage with vegetables. Next time, Bento Box.

    The vast majority of menu items are drinks -- hot teas, milk teas, fruit smoothies, boba teas, "frog bangs" (brown sugar milk tea), Thai iced tea, coffees, lattes, cocoa. A young family came in, and mom and three kids got boba teas, while one youngster got the popcorn chicken instead. I figured that was a good recommendation of the chicken.

    So if you're in the area, this is a good place to for lunch or a snack. Not a big place (room for maybe 10 diners), so only show up with a crowd if it's carry-out. Pleased with the food, delighted with the owners.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com

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