Thursday, February 19, 2009

Leaving Footprints on Saint's Alp

Pronunciation: \'alp\
Function: noun
Etymology: back-formation from Alps, mountain system of Europe
Date: 15th century

1: a high rugged mountain
2: something suggesting an alp in height, size, or ruggedness

My first introduction to Saint's Alp Teahouse was about three years when my friend Nick took me there for some boba freshman year. This was back in his pre-vegan days (if you can remember that long ago, it's safe to say it's been awhile). A cozy Taiwanese teahouse in the East Village, Saint's Alp is a local neighborhood haunt popular with the college kids, a place where I know I can get good bubble tea and reliable lunch dishes for cheap. Over the years, I've sampled countless varieties of their bubble tea: black, almond, mango, passion fruit, Romeo, Juliet and kumquat lime nectar bubble teas, and lychee nectar with nata de coco. As for the dishes: Braised chicken, minced pork and shredded spicy chicken with green noodles, just to name a few.

On my most recent trip to Saint's Alp two days ago, I discovered with a shock that my beloved Romeo (tart) and Juliet (sweet) Specials had strangely vanished from the menu. Oh, no! The thought that my Shakespearean loves had been offed saddened me momentarily.

But then I ordered a Tropical Fruit Nata ($3.45, incl. boba), and all was well with the world again. The Specially Braised Chicken Chunk with rice ($5.50) came out a little later than usual, but I'll cough that up to the downsized staff (I only spotted one chef in the kitchen before 3pm, and there were only two small parties when we arrived at 1pm on a weekday).

Pssssst: Even the waiters are familiar. The same Taiwanese pretty boys from three years ago still work here. That's one of the perks of being a regular, you notice these things. And they notice you. Maybe.

My friend Kristal ordered the Marinated Minced Pork with rice ($5.50) and the hot butterscotch black milk tea with boba ($3.25). Buttery is the key word here.

A shining Kristal moments before digging in.

For years, I thought Saint's Alp was 'Saint Alp's' -- a common visual blunder, I suppose. I have so many memories of Saint's Alp. Countless lunch and snack sessions with high school and college buddies, but also a handful of awkward 'dates'.

I'll never forget that one sweltering summer evening of 2007. I was working as a front end cashier at Dean & Deluca. I brought my co-worker here -- it was his first time. Blond, curly-haired, one year my senior, with a nonchalant swagger, completely uninhibited and borderline Bukowski-an by nature. His recent history included backpacking through China, where he'd almost managed to get stuck there until someone had made a few calls to the embassy and bailed him out. After work, we walked all the way from Soho to Third Av and almost didn't make it to Saint's Alp due to my lack of navigational skills. Once there, he ordered the first thing that caught his eye: Chocomint Shake. I could've died then and there. But hey, to each his own.

There's still a lot on the menu I have yet to try: Mung bean shake, green barley juice, honey & yolk cocktail, taro pudding with azuki bean, condensed milk toast. However, I'm confident that I'll get around to long as Saint's Alp stays in business (crossing my fingers).

No comments:

Post a Comment