— 8 Jun 2017, 00:00 by Hugh Thomas
It’s the new sensation. The successor to the freakshake, some say. In some ways they’re right, but this isn’t one of those passing fads.
Nosteagia – that’s Nos-tea-gia for you at the back – have been in business since 2013, and were the first guys to bring the bubble waffle to London. Why’d they go viral so recently, then? ‘It’s because of Time Out’ says co-founder Sanji. Before, Nosteagia were known mostly to Southeast Asian expats looking for their bubble waffle fix. Now? More or less the rest of London.
The bubble waffle’s origins are in Hong Kong, where they’re usually eaten plain. Sanji thought that was a bit ‘too boring’, so what you’re faced with is a panoply of toppings to jazz things up a bit. M&Ms, Oreo, ice cream, Coco Pops, Marshmallow, chocolate chips, cookie crumbs – you bloody name it.
Ok, the toppings are a Western thing, but the way the bubble waffle is made definitely isn’t. ‘The waffle must be crispy,’ says Sanji. ‘If it’s not, it’s not original. There’s a way to make it, and you need a lot of skill.’
Let’s get to the other part of Nosteagia’s double threat. When they first met, Sanji liked to make waffles. Monica was the tea lady. To get Nosteagia, all they had to do was put two and two together. ‘Tea in Taiwan is very pure and very strong compared to here,’ says Sanji. ‘They take the leaf fresh from the plant, and make it right there on the spot.’
Which really makes our teabags look a bit dull. Here you’ll find milk teas in purples, oranges, greens, and pinks. ‘We crush strawberries, kiwis, and everything into a syrup, which then goes into the tea,’ says Sanji. Apart from some added sugar, it’s served au naturel. Yeah, it’s vaguely reminiscent of your average builder’s cuppa (milk two sugars). If your regular builder’s went out for a rave, that is.