Courtesy of James, one of two 11-year olds who writes J and J Say:



Inspired by a recent trip home.

BEST: Passion fruit pearl milk tea from Fantasia in Milpitas. This has been my drink for six years, and my obsessive dedication to it makes every other pearl drink pale in comparison. I don’t even bother trying them on the East Coast anymore.

Fantasia is a Bay Area chain, but the Milpitas location is the best one, and there’s one guy at Milpitas who makes THE best pearl drinks ever. He’s a big dude with a shaved head and “Viva Mexico!” tattooed on his arm, and he makes my drink and sets it aside for me when he spots me in line. On my sixteenth birthday, he went to the back of the store and brought out an entire cake for me, on the house. The Big Man has even inspired drawings of me hugging his belly with one arm and holding a pearl drink in another. I love him, and it looks like I’m not the only one:

He IS the best.

WORST: Ginger beer from Coconuts in Palo Alto. A friend and I were compelled to try this per some girl’s recommendation, and I wish we hadn’t. I don’t know much about ginger beer, so maybe this is more authentic than whatever canned version I’m used to drinking, but this was essentially uncarbonated ginger water. Very, very spicy ginger water — it tasted like knobs of ginger blended with tap water, without any sort of sweetener. It’s the only drink I’ve ever ordered that I refused to finish, and so my friend opted to chug it so our money wouldn’t be totally wasted. Total disaster.

Over the last few months, I’ve become a little obsessed with becoming a recognized regular at Padaria Brasil. Even though I’m pretty sure I’m one of very few non-Brazilians who frequent this nondescript Allston eatery, nothing seems to work — I go in at least once a week, I ask for recommendations, I order a variety of items, I tip, and I’ve even converted several friends to the wonders of the pão de queijo, pictured below in all its glory. That’s some glutinous goodness right there.

I’d give up, except every so often the one guy who does recognize me suggests new things for me to try and sneaks extra goodies in for me. He’s the one who introduced me to coxinha, which are basically giant croquettes filled with chicken, and my favorite thing to eat from there. He also introduced me to tamales made with fresh corn rather than masa. It’s just enough to keep me coming back, even knowing that he hardly ever works the counter.

Yeah, I’ve got it bad.