A new bubble tea chain blocks away from campus is serving up its famed egg waffles and signature teas.
Gong Cha – or the “daily tea place,” as a sign reads on the storefront – opened its doors in January at 1901 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. The chain restaurant shares an entrance with Toryumon Japanese House and, like its neighbor, accepts GWorld payment.
The store instantly smells of fresh waffle batter and matcha, a sweet welcome to any wandering customer. The menus are covered in pastel blue, yellow and purple colors, and the walls are decorated with decals of a world map and boba tea.
There are plenty of spots inside Gong Cha to enjoy tea, including two high-top tables seating about six people each and five additional tables accommodating four people each. Toward the back of the store, you can sit at circular tables on comfortable red cushions next to a luscious plant wall.
The franchise was founded in Taiwan in 2006 and since then, more than 1,500 other locations have been added internationally, according to its website. You can also find Gong Cha in cities like New York City, Boston, Austin and Houston.
Gong Cha features more than 60 drink options, which include milk foam, milk tea, ice smoothies and yogurt. A “creative mix” section lists tea fusions, like lychee green tea ($4.25), grapefruit ai-yu ($4.75) and a dozen add-ons like pearls, puddings and taro puree. If the list of bubble teas is overwhelming, you can opt for a brewed tea or coffee.
Gong Cha narrows down the most popular items with a “Top 10” list, which is included on the menu. If you’re still unsure what or how to order, you can follow a “How To Order” sign on the menu, which asks you what size, sweetness, ice level and toppings you prefer.
While the restaurant is known for its teas, the most mouth-watering of all options was the egg waffles ($5.99). The egg waffles can be requested in three batter flavors – vanilla, matcha and chocolate – and the option to add ice cream in the middle is $1.50 more. I chose the vanilla waffle with vanilla ice cream and added chocolate syrup and powdered sugar.
The size of the waffle made the generous scoop of ice cream look small. The entire dessert comes in a cup, creating an upright cone shape. Instead of a normal waffle’s square craters, this waffle has circular raised mounds arranged in a symmetrical pattern, resembling the shape of an open carton of eggs.
The waffle is thin and crisp in parts but bubbles into thicker pockets. A thin milk chocolate sauce drizzled over the waffle added a subtle contrast to the vanilla and dripped effortlessly onto the ice cream. The powdered sugar, while not needed, gave the waffle a decorative touch and more sweetness.
I was almost afraid to dig into the masterpiece, but once I did, I was not disappointed. The waffle was much larger than the scoop of ice cream, so I decided to rip a part from the top of the waffle and spoon some ice cream on top to each piece.
The waffle was warm and noticeably fresh, its taste resembling a thinner breakfast waffle, and the ice cream gave the buttery pastry a creamy and cool flavor. The dessert as a whole was decadent, and although I challenged myself to eat the entire portion, I saved the rest of the waffle for a breakfast treat.
Your next study spot, go-to cafe and food Instagram can all be found in one place at Gong Cha.