Cheap Eats: Buy One Get One Free Boba and $2.75 Snacks at I-Tea Cafe
Buy one get one free boba and $2.75 popcorn chicken!
You've got a $10 in your wallet. You've got a growling stomach. You happen to be walking down Jeffrey Road in Irvine when, suddenly, you break down. You really need to eat.
The closest thing to you is Irvine Village Center across from Irvine Valley College, a business complex that's as dull and dead as the gray-beige paint on its buildings. Strangely, though, this complex has housed some of Irvine's greatest gems: Paradise Perks and Sushilicious, which are now gone (God rest their souls). But there's still Thai Spice. Oh, and I-Tea Café.
I-Tea Café is a Taiwanese express eatery that's got all the essentials: bubble tea, stinky tofu, popcorn chicken, rice dishes, and soups. But what makes it special? Its buy one get one free boba deal (which runs, well, all day every day) and its $2.75 snack menu, which includes 32 items. Some of the items? Popcorn chicken, minced fried tofu, wonton soup, French fries, and stinky tofu. I know right - WHAT?!
Financially speaking, some items are worth it more than others. For example, I'd pick popcorn chicken over cold mixed cucumber (which is also on the snack list) because $2.75 for cucumbers is actually expensive (if you're a cheapskate like me). The "buy one get one free" boba goes at around $4, so if you split it with a friend that'll be $2 each. Also, they don't skimp around with portions.
As for taste, this is as good as you can get for the price. I've tried the popcorn chicken and minced fried tofu and both are crispy and flavorful. The milk tea is standard, but the boba is soft and chewy - a much better deal than other "buy one get one free" boba drinks, like at Banh Mi Che Cali (though theirs is cheaper).
On behalf of the cheap and hungry, I say this: thank you, I-Tea Café. Our wallets love you.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.