Want an out of the ordinary food crawl with your friends? Between Mercy Drive and Powers Drive in Orlando, better known as Pine Hills, you’ll find what some call the Orlando version of Chinatown. It resembles no actual Chinatown in any major city, but it does hold delicious food options, grocery stores, and lots of boba tea that you are missing out on if you don’t explore that side of Orlando.
What to know: This is most likely the best well-known dining option in the center, as locals have been coming here for ramen for quite some time. Walk up to the counter in the back to place your order and then take a seat and wait for your number to be called. The Tonkostu is my favorite, but next time I’m ready to venture into some new territory. The food comes out fast, so as long as you can find a seat during peak times this isn’t a long, drawn out meal.
Two bowls of ramen and two waters cost us about $24.
BBB Tofu House
What to know: Don’t let the name fool you. You don’t have to eat tofu if you come here, but they absolutely have it on the menu for your non-meat-eating friends. Of course your meal begins with banchan, an array of mixed dishes that serve as a starter to your meal. While some Korean restaurants serve a host of pickled items that my palette is not used to, this was the first Korean joint where I actually ate most of the options and liked almost all of them.
For my meal I opted for the bibimbap served in the hot stone bowl. With a little added sriracha and some left over sauce that had a hint of vinegar in it, you get a very enjoyable and filling bowl.
The service was extremely hospitable and we got to jam out to K-Pop while we dined.
Bambu Desserts & Drinks
What to know: I’ve written about Bambu before, and still find it the most enchanting spot for tea and desserts in the plaza. It’s bright and colorful, with over-the-top seating perfect for an instagram pose. The menu focuses on Asian-inspired Chè, unique boba teas, Vietnamese coffees, exotic fruit smoothies and even the popular Hong Kong waffles - one of my favorites.
What to know: I’m not gonna lie to you, this is not your average Chinese restaurant. Because of the specific style of cuisine they offer, it’s heavy on the seafood options. I was woefully unaware of what most of the menu consisted of and had to ask a lot of questions. We ordered a seafood platter, spare ribs, and salt & pepper fried calamari. Despite being unsure how to order, our food was delicious and the staff was very patient with us. Knowing what I know now, I would absolutely consult their Facebook page which lists by picture, many of their menu items, which will prove helpful if you are not knowledgeable about this style of Chinese cuisine.
What to know: Zero Degrees is a chain and it’s location in the shopping plaza is one of the newer additions attracting attention. It's a Asian-Hispanic fusion concept focusing on snack foods and drinks. Nothing here is healthy; it's truly a menu of guilty pleasures. The Ube milkshake was a fun, sweet cool down, topped with a sour rainbow stripe, a toasted marshmallow, because, why not. They have several types of teas, and the popular split cups that allow you to order two types of tea at a time. Most of the food has a fast food snack vibe, with items like hot Cheetos cheese fries and wings. Definitely a fun spot to stop and try a few things.
Sun Pearl Bakery
What to know: This bakery is a wonderland. Sun Pearl has an overwhelming amount of treats (both sweet and savory) to go through with several options for you matcha lovers. Pineapple cakes, taro buns, even honeydew cakes. They too have a boba tea menu! This place is cash only, so don't forget your literal green.
In addition to the Bakery you can also visit the market for more treats.
The Tea Spot
What to know: Definitely less frills here than the other two spots for tea in the plaza, but here’s why it’s worth a stop. I personally found the drinks at Zero Degrees way too sweet and they couldn’t customize them for me. At the Tea Spot you call the shots on how sweet your drink is. They have just as many, if not more tea options as the other spots, so take advantage of that and customize to your hearts content. It’s also a pretty quiet place to chill with a book or laptop.
There are certainly other options in the plaza that I didn’t get to, including Pho, crawfish, the ready made food in the market, and a handful of other spots. Go explore for yourself and find your favorite spot.
All food and drinks were paid for by me, no establishment asked me to write this post or visit their business. All photos are property of LemonHearted Creative and cannot be used digitally or in print without consent.