Capstone Tea & Fondue (Richmond)

Restaurant: Capstone Tea & Fondue
Cuisine: Tea/Coffee/Drinks/Fondue/Desserts/Ice Cream
Last visited: August 14, 2011
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 160 – 9020 Capstan Way
Price Range: $10 or less for drinks, $10-20 for fondue

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 2.5
Service: 3 (friendly, but so slow)
Ambiance: 3.5
Overall: 2.5
Additional comments:

  • 2 locations
  • Locally operated/owned
  • Tea/dessert house
  • Modern Taiwanese tea house
  • No bubble tea
  • Fresh fruit drinks/smoothies
  • Popular for chocolate fondue
  • Chocolate fondue all you can east
  • Limited House made desserts
  • $19.95 fondue high tea
  • Sophisticated atmosphere
  • Limited seating
  • Reservations recommended
  • Accepts Interac/Visa/MC
  • Free parking
  • Open late

**Recommendations: Ice cream truffle fondue

The original Capstone Tea & Fondue started in 2005 and it’s located in downtown Vancouver, BC. This new location is their second location that opened almost right next to Manzo Japanese Restaurant in Richmond, BC. It’s kind of predictable that the next location would be in Richmond, considering it’s the home of bubble tea and all types of Asian cuisine. So with 100 bubble tea places to choose from, what does Capstone have that the others don’t? Or what do the others have that Capstone doesn’t?

Well that’s the thing! Capstone Tea & Fondue isn’t a bubble tea house at all. They have no bubble tea. They specialize in teas, herbal teas, coffees and a limited selection of fresh fruit drinks in a modern atmosphere.

For me it was almost like the Chinese version of Starbucks. As much as it tries to cater more towards a “Western” audience, there was Asian flare in the style, menu and execution of their overall image, drinks and food. However the service was opposite of most stereotypical Chinese places, it was friendly! On the other hand it did move at a snail’s speed which is very unusual.

The Richmond location is the same as the Vancouver one, except it’s more mature and romantic with candles and a spa like feel. As much as it tries to set itself apart from the typical bubble tea house, to me it just seems like a fancy bubble tea house with less selection and no bubbles.

I actually made two visits to Capstone Tea & Fondue in Richmond because I was pretty disappointed with my first visit. I thought I’d give it the benefit of the doubt because from what I remember my experiences at their Vancouver location have been better. Anyways round two didn’t go so well either, but I don’t think I’m the market for it.

They’re actually most known for their chocolate fondue. I’m not much of a “fondue” person just because I find it’s something I can prepare at home, with ingredients from the right supplier. For me it’s almost like meat and cheese, or hot pot (Chinese fondue), I don’t see much value in those options when dining out.

However the experience is nice and it is the only fondue place in Richmond, BC. It is better quality than your “grocery store fondue party”, but I still found it quite standard and  the menu a bit pricey for what was being served. Although different styles, I missed my traditional bubble tea houses. Sure they wouldn’t have fondue, but I’d give that up for a much larger variety of drinks, Taiwanese chicken nuggets and thick toast with condensed milk!

On the table:

Japanese Matcha Latte1.5/6 (Round 1)

  • $5.25
  • This wasn’t even a big glass and I found it expensive.
  • It cost more than a Starbucks Matcha Latte and I liked the Starbucks version better. Starbucks isn’t my favourite, but just for point of reference I’ll use it as an example.
  • This one was very milky and almost flavourless and unsweetened.
  • It was almost like Jasmine tea and it was bland so we ended up sending it back. I rarely send things back too.

Japanese Matcha Latte2/6 (Round 2)

  • $5.25
  • The new one wasn’t much better, but it was presented nicer.
  • They added more syrup and matcha, but it was still bland.
  • They say it’s a “full-bodied tea steeped with milk and topped with frothy rich foam”, but I just got lots of frothy milk with matcha powder.

  • The sweetener I’m quite sure is a house made Jasmine tea syrup, and I could taste the Jasmine, but wanted to taste the matcha.
  • It wasn’t bitter and it looked like a lot of matcha powder, but it didn’t taste very matcha-y.
  • For the price it just didn’t seem 100% matcha or a very high quality of matcha powder.

Complimentary Black Sesame & Matcha Tea Cookies3.5/6

  • These came complimentary with the lattes and they were good and made in house.
  • They were similar to shortbread cookies and it was crunchy and nutty and aromatic with matcha powder, freshly ground black sesame seeds and I think some tea leaves.
  • They were a bit floral in flavour, but not bitter or overwhelming and they weren’t too sweet or buttery, but perfect tea time cookies.
  • Other places that make cookies of this style that I enjoy are from Chef Kev Cookies & Chocolate and Tealips Bubble Tea & Coffee.

Matcha Frappe 1/6 (Round 1)

  • Choice of dairy: soy milk, whole milk, skim milk $5.45
  • Like a smoothie, our tea frappe is blended with real fruits and sweetened with our home made Jasmine tea syrup.
  • This was from my first visit, and unfortunately this got sent back as well. Again, I rarely send things back.
  • It was very icy and crunchy with clumps of ice and actually bitter from the amount of matcha.
  • I did like that they used real milk as opposed to powder like most bubble tea houses though.
  • They brought me a new one, but it was almost the same so I ended up just paying for it and leaving without having either.

Matcha Frappe 2/6 (Round 2)

  • Choice of dairy: soy milk, whole milk, skim milk $5.45
  • Like a smoothie, our tea frappe is blended with real fruits and sweetened with our home made Jasmine tea syrup.
  • I re-ordered it on my second visit just to re-test it, but it was almost the same.
  • Again, I did like that they used real milk as opposed to powder like most bubble tea houses.
  • The drinks are very icy and crunchy rather than creamy though and I could bite into lots of crushed ice, it’s not like a smoothie.
  • It’s not the dessert kind of matcha frappe with green tea ice cream, but this was just ice, with matcha powder and a splash of milk. I really couldn’t taste anything else going on.
  • The texture and flavour was a bit powdery too from the matcha powder and again it’s barely sweet, but sweeter than the matcha latte.
  • I like more milk as opposed to almost all ice and I prefer the Matcha Frappe from places like Pearl Castle, Zephyr in the Sky, or the Matcha Blended Ice from Waves Coffee or Blendz. One of the best is the Japanese Green Tea Ice Cream bubble tea from Dragon Ball Tea House.

Pina Colada Frappe2.5/6

  • Choice of dairy: soy milk, whole milk, skim milk $5.45
  • Like a smoothie, our tea frappe is blended with real fruits and sweetened with our home made Jasmine tea syrup.
  • Even though it was made with fresh fruit and real milk, the execution wasn’t great and I don’t know if the fruit just wasn’t ripe enough or what.
  • This didn’t taste like a traditional pina colada you would get at most restaurants and I didn’t find it as good.
  • It wasn’t that sweet, more milk based, quite pulpy and my throat started to get scratchy even after a couple sips.
  • I couldn’t get much coconut and I think it could have been enhanced with a little pineapple and coconut syrup, but I’m not sure.
  • This was my friend’s drink and her throat was very scratchy after it. It’s that scratchiness the acid in fresh pineapple can give you sometimes.

Mango Pineapple Frappe3/6

  • Choice of dairy: soy milk, whole milk, skim milk $5.45 (Available with or without milk)
  • Like a smoothie, our tea frappe is blended with real fruits and sweetened with our home made Jasmine tea syrup.
  • Again, although it was made with fresh fruit and real milk, I’ve had better fresh fruit blended drinks than this at bubble tea houses.
  • It was a very pale yellow and there wasn’t as much mango, but the mango didn’t seem very ripe.
  • The pineapple wasn’t that ripe either, so the unripe fruits just didn’t give it a natural sweetness.
  • The Jasmine tea syrup gave it a slight floral sweetness, but it was all very mild, and a bit tart.
  • It was more milky and icy than it was bursting with fruit flavour, although it was pulpy.
  • The Mango Mooshake at Phnom Penh is my favourite mango slushy thus far. Dragon Ball Tea House also does an excellent job with fresh fruit drinks.

All You Can Eat Chocolate Fondue3/6

  • $9.95/person with a drink or $14.95/person without a drink.
  • Made with 56% semi-sweet Belgian dark chocolate. A chocolaty sweet sensation that melts in your mouth…
  • Served with assorted seasonal fruits and daily featured pastry items, and comes with a personal size fondue pot.
  • Fondue toppings: honey graham crackers, roasted peanuts, sprinkles, coconut flakes, caramel crumbs, almond rocher (2 for $2.95)
  • Putting “all you can eat” on the menu almost ruined any level of class they were aiming for, but it works and people like it.
  • This wasn’t actually my order, but I’ve had it before.
  • It’s a standard chocolate fondue, but 56% chocolate doesn’t appeal to me. I’m more of a 75-80% (or even higher) dark chocolate fan.
  • The fruits are fresh and standard and the presentation is nice, but there’s really nothing fancy about this.
  • The tea cakes are made in house and they’re more or less pound cakes, but they’re good.
  • The other pastry was the house made green tea and black sesame tea cookies I mentioned above.

**Ice Cream Truffles4/6

  • The ice cream truffles are my favourite, but that’s also just because I love ice cream.
  • They’re just mini balls of store bought ice cream and you get to dip them in chocolate, like at Purdy’s… or at home.
  • They have raspberry, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, mango, and green tea, but they vary on occasion and location.
  • With the all you can eat fondue it was $1 for 3 truffles, or $3.95 for 6… I’ll take 2 orders of $1 for 3 in that case.

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2 Comments

  • KimHo says:

    One of these days people will have to tell me what is the big deal/infatuation with matcha. For some reason, I believe it is a hype generated from some studies where people read between lines. How so? In one line, somebody said “green tea is ‘good'” and bam! Everybody wants matcha, as if it was a silver bullet of sorts, while overlooking the rest. Oh, well… As for myself, I am more “traditional”. Give me a daarjeling, Earl Grey, oolong or jasmin tea and I am a happy person! 😛

    BTW, I was told once that people seldom use darker chocolate for fondue because (a) most people don’t appreciate the bitterness or (b) it is more difficult to control the characteristics when it has more cocoa mass (as in cocoa butter plus solids). I would believe (a) given that most people grew up eating milk/white chocolate and like the sugar overload; not so sure about (b). As for myself, if it is for chocolate, just give me a good dark chocolate square!

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