Shabu shabu and bubble tea are strange bed-fellows indeed. One’s great on a sunny and sweltering afternoon while the other is a perfect antidote against the cold when it’s billowing snow outside. Oddly enough, the two happen to share top billing at Quickly, a shabu shabu place fronted by a bubble tea counter.
On a late November evening, my companions and I were there for the bubbling vats of soup and some meat swishing action, although some bubble tea with the meal would not hurt. We were a little skeptical going into the restaurant, as the shopfront looked tiny and a little dingy, and the idea of hotpot and bubble tea specialist just did not elicit much confidence in us. But as we were led to the basement, which was bright, clean and filled with groups of young Asians who seemed really into their food, we relaxed and started ordering.
The concept is simple: an individual sized hot pot for each diner, your choice of 3 soup bases and meats and vegetables to dip into the soup. A bar is stocked with all types of Asian dipping condiments, from chilli oil to sesame paste, as well as a never-ending supply of eggs, which we cooked hard boiled, stirred into egg flowers or mixed raw with the various sauces for a tasty but salmonella-prone dip. We chose a few set meals and some extra plates of meat, which came with fresh thin cuts of beef/chicken/pork/lamb that fortunately did not suffer from freezer burn, vegetables and vermicelli that miraculously multiplied in the pot. Yanru and I kept fishing and fishing and still more would surface when we thought we were done eating. While we were eating, the server (who was kind of spaced out or just overworked most of the time) brought us our bubble tea drinks that came with the meal. Yes, you get tea along your shabu shabu, in case you needed a cool respite from the steamy dinner. My Singaporean friends and I were waxing nostalgia (ok I was) over how Quickly, a bubble tea franchise from Taiwan had quickly whipped up a bubble tea frenzy in Singapore when we were high schoolers only to shut down really quickly too, due to overzealous copying by local bubble tea shops that unfortunately did not make great tea. While the tea we had were not as good as I had remembered it to be, it was definitely somewhat of a pleasant surprise to see the brand alive and well 10000 miles away from home!

237 Grand St