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May 18, 2024

Boba and movies are essential treats in Towson

By KUNAL GUPTA | September 12, 2019



Gupta’s favorite among the trendy boba and Asian dessert spots is Den Da.

“Oh, how I’ve missed you,” I thought to myself as I boarded the Collegetown Shuttle. You see, the free service is not available during the summer, and my friends and I had been forced to split $8 Uber rides for the past few months.

Happily for me (and my rapidly depleting bank account), that is no longer the case. The shuttle is back up and running, with stops at Penn Station, Baltimore’s numerous colleges and my destination: Towson. 

What’s so great about Towson? At the shopping center at Towson Place, you can go to stores like Target, Michaels and Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up knickknacks to your heart’s desire. Or you can head to Towson Town Center, a shopping mall surrounded by a multitude of restaurants, ranging from a Greek diner open 24/7 to an all-you-can-eat hotpot spot. It was here that my friend Sophia and I exited the bus and did exactly what any pair of Asian Millennials would do. We got boba.

Not just any boba, though. Our preferred spot is Den Da Coffee, a Vietnamese café that serves eats and treats from all over Asia, perfectly supplemented by an utterly fantastic and seemingly endless playlist of K-pop and Ed Sheeran. We ordered two jasmine milk teas, as well as a lychee bingsoo for the two of us. Bingsoo is essentially shaved ice covered with sweet toppings. Den Da has a variety of different flavors of these delectable desserts, each one of them visually spectacular and very tasty. The one we ordered had lychee-flavored shaved ice adorned with pieces of fresh lychee, cubes of lychee jelly and a scoop of vanilla ice cream with caramel drizzle. The complex sat upon a layer of lychee jelly and crystal boba. Perfect for a hot day, easy to share and absolutely delicious.

With several pounds of sugar coursing through our veins, we headed to our next stop: the movies. There are lots of theaters around Baltimore where you can see a diverse range of blockbusters and independent films (a personal favorite of mine is the Charles Theatre). While Cinemark Towson is a pretty standard movie theatre, it was showing a movie that my friend and I had desperately wanted to see for some time now.

Yet another live-action adaptation from a family-friendly cartoon, Dora and the Lost City of Gold centers around a now teenaged Dora the Explorer and her experience acclimating to life in the city as opposed to the jungle. I must confess that I had extremely low hopes for this movie when I learned that it was being made. But I was convinced to go see it not only by Sophia’s constant requests but also the surprisingly high 83-percent “fresh” rating the movie holds on Rotten Tomatoes.

So there we were, holding our popcorn, shaking slightly due to a combination of anticipation and high blood sugar, surrounded by gaggles of children and the poor lone parent sentenced to chaperone them. The Nickelodeon theme played, and Sophia and I shared a glance, wondering if we had made the right choice or if we would leave the theater lamenting the hour and 42 minutes we had lost to Dora, Diego, Boots, Map and Backpack But, as you might expect, as we left the theater, Sophia and I regretted absolutely nothing. Dora and the Lost City of Gold is well worth the watch, even if you are no longer a child. It seemed to me like the writers were very aware of the bizarre nature of the premise and really leaned into the silliness of the plot. 

The characters all had shining moments, but a favorite scene of ours was when Dora’s parents, portrayed by Michael Peña and Eva Longoria, attempt to explain to Dora what a rave is. It is a lot of fun, particularly when you’re on a sugar high.

Unfortunately our time in Towson ended there, as Sophia and I both had homework and errands to run back home. If we had more time, perhaps we would have grabbed a cheeky Nando’s (located directly adjacent to the theater). But alas, we had to make our way back, boarding the same Collegetown Shuttle we took to Towson. Still, it was a fun-filled few hours, and I am eager to head back up there with friends again. You should check Towson out too, and, like the protagonist in my new favorite film, explore all that it has to offer!

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