First Look: Goody Cafe Blends Bubble Tea with Chinese and Vietnamese Cuisine

"Goody Special" pho. - Photos by Mabel Suen
Photos by Mabel Suen
"Goody Special" pho.

Bubble tea hasn't quite taken St. Louis by storm the way it has in larger cities, but over the years, spots featuring chewy tapioca and oversize straws have slowly crept onto the scene. The Bubble Tea House in Chesterfield and Galleria malls, named the best bubble tea in the RFT's Best of St. Louis 2013. On January 7 the owners of these novelty tea stands set roots in midtown with Goody Cafe (3949 Lindell Boulevard; 314-814-8074).

See also: Mi Linh Parts Ways with Executive Chef Nelson Tran

"All the students come here," says manager Li Ping Fan, taking a break in the aftermath of a Saturday afternoon lunch rush. At the next table over, chef Nelson Padilla and two fellow cooks share a family-style meal together, a big metal kitchen bowl piled high with warm rice, sauteed beef and greens. Signaling toward a few patrons scattered throughout the tables in the room, Fan continues, "Everybody gets a bubble tea. See? Almost everybody!"

Chef Nelson Padilla and manager Li Ping Fan.
Chef Nelson Padilla and manager Li Ping Fan.

Goody Cafe features the signature milk teas and fruit slushes offered at the Bubble Tea House -- think flavors including coconut, honey, taro, fresh honeydew and strawberry -- but it also serves a full menu of quick-service Chinese and Vietnamese dishes. With the kitchen headed up by Padilla, Mi Linh's former chef, one can expect everything from piping-hot bowls of pho and stir-fried noodles to pork shish kabob and traditional Americanized takeout comforts including crab rangoon.

Only weeks into its opening, Goody Cafe has already attracted area residents and nearby Saint Louis University's international students who are looking for a taste of home into its large dining room. Fan names General Tso's chicken and lo mein noodles as a couple of the other crowd favorites so far. With its menu projected onto flat screen TVs, visitors can expect to see stock rotate in and out based on demand.

Half of the dining room.
Half of the dining room.

"We'll have more stuff coming soon," says Fan. "We just opened and don't know exactly what kind of food the students and close offices like. We just tried this menu first and customers give us ideas: 'Do you have this?' We can think about it and change the menu all the time."

For now, visitors can expect all the standards and then some. Goody Cafe is currently open seven days a week. A website is currently in the works.

Click through for more photos.

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