A couple of my friends had been recommending OneZo Tapioca to me for quite some time now… but as I rarely passed by one, I hadn’t made a visit until a few weeks ago on one of our many adventures.
Location: 5 Northown Way, Unit 9
North York, ON
Hours: Sunday to Thursday: 12pm to 11pm
Friday and Saturday: 12pm to 12am
Atmosphere: Take-out friendly
I was waiting until I tried the cactus tapioca before writing this review, as QuirkyAesthetics has specifically mentioned it – and mostly because you cannot name something cactus and not pique my curiosity.
As it was evening time, their tapioca choices were rather limited. I went for the OneZo oolong milk tea, as it seemed foolproof to pair one of my favourite teas with their namesake tapioca (supposedly a mix of three different types). The prices are quite steep; a medium after tax is over $6 while a large is $7, due to the heftier price they charge for their homemade tapioca.
When I got my drink, I found it be too milky, and while the tapioca was chewy and well-cooked, it was difficult to distinguish the different flavours of tapioca.
On my second visit, I decided to try the Uji Crystal Matcha – which ended up being a terrible idea. I purchased this late in the evening, and was unable to sleep that night; but asides from the insomnia, I would also not recommend the drink. While they paired well together, the matcha was quite grainy, and the crystal tapioca lacked any special flavour – I enjoyed my homemade ones more. The one upside is they gave me a large size when I ordered a medium, but that probably contributed to my inability to sleep. Note to self: no matcha past 5pm.
The third visit was after a 10k run; I was sleep-deprived, and after a terrible run in which I hurt my leg more, I was really needing a pick-me-up. It was a terribly hot day, but I trekked over to the downtown location. While I was once again disappointed with the absence of cactus tapioca, I went for their special world cup tapioca, and opted for the most basic drink – milk green tea. Or as they call it, green milk tea. Evidently, they don’t understand it the other way around. But, they held a promotion that day to receive a free medium drink (of two options) with purchase, so my friends were the lucky recipients of a milk tea with OneZo tapioca.
This time, I greatly enjoyed my drink – the world cup tapioca resembled cat-eye marbles with matcha, charcoal, and coconut making up the green-black-white of the pearl. The most discernible taste was of the coconut, and the milk green tea was a lovely complement to the flavourful tapioca. Keep in mind, all three visits to OneZo were all within a week and a half, leading a couple of friends to ask if this was my new favourite bubble tea place.
Thus, on a recent fourth visit, I finally got my cactus tapioca, and to be safe, paired it with the milk green tea once again. The cactus tapioca turned the bottom of the drink to a pinky hue due to the syrup, but the taste of the tapioca was quite subtle. There was a slight fruity, tangy taste, but overall, the enjoyment was mostly visual.
In summary, the homemade tapioca alone is worth a visit. I would recommend getting a special one if available (world cup tapioca was the most interesting by far) with a simple drink so the tapioca shines through. I am intrigued to try more flavours, but so far have only enjoyed one of the three milk-based drinks – maybe I’ll step out of my comfort zone and try a fruity one next time.