Food Porn: Tea Leaf Cafe

We actually first tried Tea Leaf Cafe in October of 2010, not to long after they initially opened their doors.  Located next door to Maple Rd’s AMC Movie Theater, Alli and I were immediately impressed with how nice the interior was.  You could tell these owners clearly put some money into making this a really cool place to hang out.  But we weren’t as impressed with the food at the time, specifically their Soup Dumplings.  On a trip to NYC in 2008, our friend Mike introduced us to the magic that is Soup Dumplings and we had an almost religious experience.  We loved them so much that we kept ordering more and more (4 orders by my guess); we were depressed when we got back to Buffalo and realized no one was offering this wonderful creation.

So when Alli and I looked at Tea Leaf’s menu and saw the words “Soup Dumplings” on the menu, we almost immediately got in our car and left.  While the meal left us wanting more, we vowed we would eventually go back and try out their food again and write up a proper Food Porn.  It took us over 6 months but we finally made it back and we tried those Soup Dumplings again, see how it went….

Quick Info:

  • Restaurant Type: Casual/Cafe
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Price: Dumplings/Small Plates Under $6, Teas Under $5
  • Location: Amherst

We walked into Tea Leaf Cafe on a lovely sunny afternoon, it was pretty quiet inside and we had some time to look over the menu.  We had purchased a deal through Sweet Find which meant we got to order 2 small plates and 2 teas for only $10 (about a 50% savings).  Right off the bat we ran into the problem of Tea Leaf being out of stock of several things.  Pork Buns? Nope.  Avocado Bubble Tea? Nope.  I ended up ordering a large Guava Bubble Tea (pictured below) and thought it was OK, the tapioca balls in the bottle of the drink had a good chewiness.  I’m not exactly a “pro” when it comes to Bubble Tea, but with the large selection of flavors they offer I’m sure there is something for everyone.

Trying to stay away from disappointment, Alli wanted to keep it safe and order their Chicken & Vegetable Spring Rolls (pictured below).  They were just as good as she remembered from our first visit, a flaky crust with a warm and juicy chicken/carrot filling.  For only a couple bucks this is a good dish to split or eat as a small snack.

I ordered the Pork and Chives Dumplings (all their dumplings are hand made, btw) and had them pan seared so they were nice and crispy without being burned.  Inside was juicy pork that had a kick from the chives packed inside, it was a little salty but overall a nice treat.  Both the Spring Rolls and Dumplings were good but we decided to roll the dice and order their Shanghainese Soup Dumplings (pictured below) and that’s what we really were looking forward to.

When we tried these dumplings in October what really made them not live up to the NYC Soup Dumplings was the complete lack of soup inside the dumpling.  The dumplings in NYC were on the verge of exploding with soup and Tea Leaf’s had virtually no soup inside but really just a soggy crouton.  I am excited to say that they’ve improved since we last tried these dumplings, I would still love to have a bigger and more soup-filled dumpling (maybe offer 3 big ones instead of 5 smaller ones) but it’s definitely the closest thing in Buffalo I’ve had.

We enjoyed our meal at Tea Leaf Cafe and it actually made me wish that I was still attending UB, this would be a great lunch option if you have some time.  The menu is cheap and with their calm and relaxing interior, it’s also a really good place to finish up some homework or get some last minute studying in.  I also have to give props for Tea Leaf utilizing Social Media as much as they have, when we visited the first time they reached out to us on twitter to ask how our meal was.  But they also have created a special for foursquare users; on your first check-in you get 30% off a drink and/or dessert.

Photo Gallery:

Tea Leaf Cafe on Urbanspoon

One thought on “Food Porn: Tea Leaf Cafe

  1. lindsey

    Go Bulls! I love tea leaf! I stop there after classes on tuesday for my pineapple strawberry kiwi bubble tea :)

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