By Simone Levine
Hidden behind Thai Inter and squashed next to Famous Footwear, Teariffic, a restaurant with self-described “authentic and healthy Chinese food,” was crowded but not bursting at 6:00 on the Friday night when I visited, with the overall volume kept down to a comforting, dull roar. The restaurant is absolutely child-friendly, with high chairs and booster seats at the ready and familiar foods, such as lo mein or fried rice, that children feel comfortable ordering. The atmosphere is casual; patrons order at the counter and then seat themselves after getting their own water and utensils from a tray. There are Chinese pictures and a scroll along the walls, and one wall is covered with bamboo stalks.
I went to Teariffic with an open mind and an empty stomach, and I was not disappointed. The staff was friendly and helpful: the woman at the counter helped my friend and me pick out drinks and chatted politely with us. The food was absolutely delicious. I ordered tofu with mushrooms in brown sauce and my friend ordered vegetable lo mein.
The tofu was cooked to perfection, with the outside browned, hardened, and chewy and the inside still white and slightly raw. The mushrooms were a little undercooked, and I was unable to finish them after I had helped myself to the giant portion of rice that came with my meal.
Our drinks had great flavor, but the bubbles (black, chewy tapioca balls, for those who are less versed in the ways of bubble tea) were a little stale and got stuck in our teeth. My friend, who had never had bubble tea before, was intrigued, and said with a mixture of disgust and excitement, “It’s like I’m slurping fish eggs out of water, but in a good way.”
I had mixed feelings about the atmosphere. While the college-aged women next to us on one side were extremely friendly and struck up a conversation with us about tofu (they had never tried it before), the table on our other side was extremely rude to their server and loudly let loose a number of sounds that one does not expect or want to hear while eating dinner in a restaurant.
Teariffic itself was very pleasant and casual while still maintaining the mood of any other somewhat nice, sit-down restaurant, but that second table ruined the night for us. My friend and I both lost our appetites and wound up taking our food in to-go boxes (Styrofoam, unfortunately) rather than stay and listen to them yell at each other, the servers, and those who turned to see where the racket and belching was coming.
The service and the food itself were fantastic, and I would definitely recommend Teariffic to anyone looking for a casual restaurant that is a couple steps above a greasy Chinese food joint. They have the options of either carry out or sit-down dining, as well as an online menu and website so that hungry patrons can call ahead and have their food waiting when they get there. The service is so fast, however, that I would not recommend doing this if you are planning on sitting down and eating. I would give Teariffic a solid 4 out of 5 stars and my own stamp of approval for a tasty meal and wonderful service.