With university life returning to campus, many students are eagerly scouring for fresh and reliable study spots. Working tirelessly in the same place every day will quickly become stale, and sometimes refueling while working at an eatery can be reinvigorating. Students at the University of Manitoba will find one such rest stop within walking distance of the Fort Garry campus.
Located at 18-2077 Pembina Highway, Meet Fresh is the chain’s only franchise location to open in Winnipeg. The eatery is a convenient refuge for anyone looking to study away from the hustle and bustle of campus life, or to just hang out with peers. Billing itself as a home to “authentic Taiwanese dessert,” Meet Fresh primarily serves milk teas, boba and Taiwanese-style shaved ice.
A sweet tooth is mandatory for anyone wishing to visit.
The strawberry and mango Gemini Milk shaved ice is a stand-out. The dish comes with an even balance of fresh strawberry and mango that compliments the sweetness of the condensed milk. I ordered the shaved ice dish with one other person, and the portion size left us full to bursting and wishing for a third to share it with.
Small side bowls make the large serving size easy to divvy up between two or more people. This is an improvement on many shaved ice restaurants, where in my experience groups must often huddle over one communal dish.
The menu is expansive and varied. Along with the shaved ice, various puddings, dessert waffles, mochi, almond soup and purple rice soup leave dessert fans with lots to sample. What’s more, its bubble teas are of a very consistent quality.
Throughout the pandemic, Meet Fresh’s winter melon tea with lemon was one of my go-to drink orders. However, most other drinks on the menu reward customers for experimenting with different combinations of toppings for their beverages.
Meet Fresh boasts ample power outlets and comfortable seating spaces. On multiple occasions, even for part of the time I wrote this review, I have hunkered down on one of the restaurant’s comfortable couches, plugged in my laptop and chipped away at my coursework courtesy of the restaurant’s free Wi-Fi.
After classes, Meet Fresh also offers a relaxing atmosphere for students to wind-down and socialize with friends. The restaurant typically has pop music from the ’00s, well-known hits circulating on TikTok, C-pop and K-pop in its rotation. As well, when I went the eatery had a small stock of playing card packs, board games, Rubik’s cubes, and other party favourites like UNO available to patrons.
While optimal for a stop along Pembina near the U of M, the experience Meet Fresh offers is not perfect. The staff are efficient and friendly, though their focus on customer service sometimes supersedes front of house cleanliness. At times, dishes will be left at the drop-off counter for hours after diners have left, and tables are occasionally left with mildly sticky residue after an insufficient wipe down.
These are minor complaints in an otherwise strong experience.
Meet Fresh offers a highly desirable space to kick back for study-spot-starved students, as well as a large and diverse menu of Taiwanese desserts.
Standing out in a saturated market of bubble tea restaurants along Pembina south is no small feat, but Meet Fresh manages to distinguish itself from its competitors with a broad menu and an environment that suits the hard-working student’s lifestyle.
Meet Fresh is open from 1:00 to 10:00 p.m. most days, with extended hours until 11:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.