Top 5: Asian Grocery Beverages


Feeling excited about the dragon fruit drink I'd recently sipped at Subo, I picked up a few hard-to-find canned bevvies at Shuang Hur on Nicollet (which has recently reduced the size of its shop leaving me somewhat concerned about the businesses viability...) and sampled 'em with Jessica Chapman. Here's how we ranked the drinks, in descending order of preference:

5. Basil Seed Those things in the bottom of the glass are actual basil seeds that, when soaked in water become gelatinous--very similar to the funky, eyeball-like seeds of the dragonfruit. Unlike the dragonfruit drink's tropical tastiness, this viscous liquid had a soapy, bubblegum-like sweetness which caused Jessica to declare, "it tastes like a banana runt!" (And caused me to spit mine into the sink.) Sure enough the label indicates "banana flavor added." Interestingly, we detected no discernible basil flavor.

4. Grass Jelly Grass jelly? Wha? Brownish, jelly-like clumps are made by boiling the stalks and leaves of an Asian mint with potassium carbonate. The first few sips of liquid tasted a bit like a thick, sweet black tea with earthy, dirt-like flavors. The Jell-O-like clumps settled in the bottom of the can tasted the same, with far less textural appeal.

3. Young Coconut This was something I had in the pantry--no clue where it came from at this point, as it appears not to be labeled for retail sale--but I thought I'd throw it in the mix anyway. Result? Not good. The sweetness was cloying--not wasn't nearly as good as fresh young coconut at Subo.


2. Kalamansi A refreshing, extra-sweet limeade; this one was the most accessible of the bunch. Digging the slender Red Bull-shaped can, too.

1. Mangosteen Tastes rather like mangosteen, which means it has a delicate, tropical, lychee-like flavor. And now, to use it as a cocktail mixer...