One of the leading boba names in the city of Taipei is Jen Ju Dan (珍煮丹), which also happens to be one of my favourites boba shops in Hong Kong as well. It was an instant fall-in-love moment when I first tried Jen Ju Dan in Hong Kong. Their signature brown sugar boba milk with crema was outstanding and they executed the brown sugar tapioca pearls impeccably. It’s safe to say that when I heard that they are opening in London, albeit in the name of ‘True Dan’ instead, I was over the moon about it!
*header photo credits to True Dan UK
True Dan London
True Dan London is located at the Brunswick Centre in Russel Square, opposite Fuwa Fuwa. Visiting during their opening week, the shop was absolutely packed. We braced the cold winds and queue, which thankfully moved at a fairly reasonable pace, to take advantage of their opening 50% off promotion.
A little background of True Dan’s story – they started out as a stall at the Shilin Night Market in Taipei and rose to global success in no time. The Shilin Night Market is a super famous spot in Taiwan and True Dan/Jen Ju Dan’s speciality concept of brown sugar tapioca pearls and their superb quality has quickly drawn plenty of attention, attracting both locals and tourists to try them. This little origin story can be seen at the London Brunswick Centre shop where you will be greeted with a colourful hand-painted mural of Shilin Night Market and True Dan’s original store.
Brown Sugar Boba Milk with Crema (£5.20)
Unlike many other boba spots when it comes to brown sugar boba milk, you do get to choose your own ice and sugar levels. We went with 30% ice and 70% sweetness here. The tapioca pearls were still warm in the cup, which is a good sign of freshness. You can also see the clearly defined layers of the brown sugar, milk, and salted crema.
Upon the first sip, I was fairly happy with the quality of tapioca pearls. The pearls were nicely chewy with a slight al dente touch, and seeping of a subtle brown sugar fragrance. I also liked the crema layer, which was creamy and added a very subtle savoury touch to let the sweetness pop. However, what I didn’t enjoy as much is the milk itself. I find the milk a little watered down from what I remembered of the exact same drink when I had it at True Dan/Jen Ju Dan Hong Kong. It was missing that extra luscious velvety touch that made me fall in love with True Dan in the first place.
Food Review Summary
All in all, True Dan serves up decent boba by London standards but it’s, unfortunately, definitely not up to par as their Asian counterparts. Whilst not bad, I personally feel slightly disappointed because I had high expectations for it and know how good it can be. If you are looking for good quality brown sugar boba milk, I’d recommend The Alley and The Whale Tea where both remain London’s best boba spots.
Nearest station: Russell Square