Dear Dine

Dear Dine,

I want to try bubble tea. What do you recommend? — Emmy C.

Dear Emmy,

Bubble tea can feel a bit intimidating to order with its range of colorful flavors and toppings. However, most bubble tea shops are prepared to steer you in the right direction for your first boba journey.

Tam Ho, manager at Yumchaa, said, “Depending on what their preference is, we will respond accordingly. If they like milk tea, we would recommend Yumchaa, taro, or jasmine with taro milk teas. If they like something that is more fruity, kumquat fruit tea with orange juice and pineapple juice is pretty popular. The strawberry smoothie and Hawaiian sunset are some of our signature drinks that many customers like.”

As far as toppings go, boba tapioca pearls are a great basic place to start while popping boba are filled with fruit juice for an extra burst of flavor. A handful of other common toppings include red beans, jelly, pudding, chia seeds, and a milk cap, a foamy layer of milk and cream cheese sprinkled with salt.

Dear Dine,

How do you order Indian food with different spice levels, and are there dishes that aren’t spicy at all? — Morgan L.

Dear Morgan,

The answer may depend on the restaurant’s regional influence. Chef Ashish Sathyan and his wife, Kimberly Harris, opened Kinaara knowing they would need to cater some to the Midwestern perception of Indian food while including dishes that were still important to Sathyan’s heritage, such as Grandma’s Fish and Mango Curry.

Sathyan explained, “All Indian food being spicy is a common misconception. There are dishes that are very spicy, such as vindaloo, but also ones that are made with milder, sweeter tomato sauce, like butter chicken. In that regard, medium is different with each dish. A medium tikka masala is the same as a mild curry. Just tell the server what you prefer and let them give suggestions.”

Dear Dine,

What is the correct way to eat ramen? — Stephen J.

Dear Stephen,

To slurp or not to slurp is often a worry when it comes to eating ramen. Luckily, Alex Mullen, the General Manager for Ika Ramen and Izakaya, had all the tips for enjoying that tasty bowl. He said, “There are many unspoken rules when it comes to eating ramen. In our shops we really let everyone eat how they please. We get many requests for forks and special modifications to our bowls. One request we try to avoid is to split a bowl. Ramen is best when eaten hot. Slurping your noodles is ok, as this will help cool down the food going into your mouth. Many people eat just the noodles and leave all the broth behind. Our broths take days to make and we make sure they are as tasty as they can be.

One other thing I notice is that people eat in ‘segments’. They will start with the protein first, then the egg, then the noodles, and then if they are still hungry they will finish the broth. Ideally, I would say you want to eat a little bit of everything in one bite. Lastly, don’t overdo it on the spicy sauce. We add spicy sauce or oil into some of our bowls, and if you need more, you can get it on the side.”

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