first impression | The outside of this Japanese cafe in Chesterfield may be unassuming, but the interior is definitely Instagram-worthy. It features butterfly and succulent murals, lots of plants, fun neon signs and even a giant teddy bear. While you currently can’t enjoy dining in due to COVID-19, there is an efficient set-up for carryout orders that minimizes contact between staff and other patrons.
wash it down
You won’t find alcohol on the menu, but the extensive varieties of tea, cocoa, smoothies and more on offer are a big part of HiTea’s appeal. The drinks are extremely customizable with adjustable sweetness and iciness levels and a variety of add-ins like boba, jellies and red bean. You also can get a cheese tea, which is topped with a foamy mixture of cream cheese and whipping cream.
» korokke: $4.99; These don’t seem to always be on the menu, but if they pop up while you’re ordering online, get them. The Japanese take on traditional French croquettes, the deep-fried potato patties are crunchy on the outside and smooth and creamy inside. They’re served with a sweet chili sauce that has a nice, but very brief, burn.
» lobster ramen: $19.99; The whole lobster tail perched atop noodles is certainly a showstopper, and not something you’d expect to find at a little cafe. The lobster itself is tender and pairs nicely with the rich white miso broth. Other ingredients like corn, black fungus and Narutomaki (a pink and white fish cake) add pops of flavor and texture.
» pulled beef teriyaki udon: $11.99; Stir-fried wheat-flour noodles are paired with a selection of veggies and spicy shredded beef. This dish has a hearty, comfort food feel to it. The heat may come as a surprise since teriyaki often has a sweet connotation, so be aware if you’re sensitive to spice.
» brown sugar boba milk tea: $5.45; This is listed as one of HiTea’s most popular items, and it’s not difficult to see why. Sweet and almost caramelly, this is a classic bubble tea flavor. It’s definitely worth a try if you’re a fan of boba, but be aware, it is very sweet.
» deep blue flower milk tea: $4.45; If you’re looking for a drink option that’s a little less of a sugar bomb, this is the way to go. The delicate floral flavor is sweet, but not overly so. Plus, the bright blue color is just too pretty to pass up. This comes with a cheese topping, but I couldn’t really detect it, so it’s either very light or sometimes left off.
There’s a lot to love about HiTea. It’s got an undoubtedly unique vibe, and the food and drink menus are extensive. While there are some familiar items, there are enough interesting twists and bright flavors to make for a fun dining experience, even if you’re eating at home and can’t sit next to a giant teddy bear.
13700 Olive Blvd. | 314.392.9399 | hiteachesterfield.com
Pictured at top: Gyūdon – rice topped with beef and onions simmered in a sweet sauce flavored with dashi, soy sauce and mirin
Photo: Bill Barrett