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Cafes

One Hour

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on October 7, 2011

One Hour TorontoOne Hour probably has the best seating of any downtown restaurant or café. So simple, yet so often overlooked; the bean bag chair. I thought they were long retired since going 'out' back in middle school, but alas, they remain in numbers on Spadina just south of College.

One Hour is a new tea house in Chinatown perfectly suited for marathon study sessions. Those days, thankfully, are behind me, yet I can still feel the pangs of soreness in my lower back (and head) when I think of the hours spent in straight-back chairs during exam time. One Hour, owner Han Shao tells me, was designed with students in mind, with both high bar seating and low communal tables with bean bags waiting for recipients at either side.

One Hour TorontoWhite walls and pale wood carry the brightness from the front window along the length of the space, creating an open, airy atmosphere with lots of room to stretch out. Han leads me past the bar to the back area, which is stocked with its own collection of tables and bean bag chairs. "We will be using this space for special events, parties," Han says.

One Hour TorontoOriginally from China, Han came to Toronto with the intention of studying and working in architecture, but he soon abandoned those plans in favour of opening up this shop with a designer friend. "One hour," he says, "that's all it takes to change your day. If you spend one hour here, we want it to be the best hour of your day."

20111005-1hr-11.jpgJust opened one month, Han is still working out the kinks in his menu, but he tells me One Hour will offer a combination of light fare--snacks, desserts, noodle soups--as well as a variety of traditional Chinese teas. I sip an iced mango green ($3.99), which is cool and refreshing with lots of flavour and slight floral undertones, as I browse some of the other menu offerings.

One Hour TorontoTea ($3.99/s, $4.99/lg) is available in endless options including cold or hot, green or black, and classic or slush (+$1.00), and in flavours such as Taro, Almond, Red Bean, and White Gourd. The savoury food options at the moment are limited to homemade beef noodle soup ($4.99/$5.99) and a couple other options, though Han says the kitchen is working on a decadent cheesecake.

One Hour TorontoAgain with students in mind, One Hour is open every day from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m., and WiFi free and available. Of course, they had me at the bean bags.

One Hour TorontoPhotos by Jesse Milns

Discussion

21 Comments

Peiji / October 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm
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I can definitely see the designer/architectural aspect of this place.
I would love to check this place out. The iced mango looks yummy!
Just sayin / October 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm
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This place is way too overpriced for students. I paid $3.99 for a cup of tea there!
Matt / October 7, 2011 at 01:28 pm
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Not all students are poor. Go win a SSHRC scholarship and stop complaining about the price of tea already!
roocy / October 7, 2011 at 03:06 pm
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unrelated: never liked beanbag chairs. Much difficulty getting up to be had by large beverage drinker.
Richy Rich replying to a comment from Matt / October 7, 2011 at 03:37 pm
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Not all students are rich (most, I would say). Four bucks is steep (sorry) for a cup of tea, student or not.
Joey replying to a comment from Just sayin / October 7, 2011 at 04:28 pm
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If you can't afford it, go drink the cheap swill they're serving at Tim Hortons. Or better yet, just stay home and make your own and leave this place for the rest of us.
ro replying to a comment from Richy Rich / October 7, 2011 at 04:38 pm
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you do realize that if they charged a dollar for tea and let people stay there for hours and have no semblance of turnover they would go bankrupt, right?
anthony / October 8, 2011 at 01:48 pm
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they gotta make money somewhere kiddo
Ken / October 10, 2011 at 03:05 am
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I'm a student and I think the prices here are pretty reasonable.
Emily / October 11, 2011 at 05:17 pm
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Good to see a nice, clean, modern place in Chinatown for once. Maybe there will be more like it soon? Although of course, I love the cheap dive restaurants for 4 am drunk feasts.
charles / October 15, 2011 at 11:46 am
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$4 is reasonable given the decor and atmosphere of the spot, esp when you consider people go there and prob sit there for several hours. any less would be an insult to the owner.
David / October 16, 2011 at 09:39 pm
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I really like their beef noodle soup, fantastic!! Everyone should go& check it out..!
chesnut / October 18, 2011 at 11:02 pm
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Beautiful place ! am looking forward for further expansions on the menu the huge windows are just heavenly, imagine a sunny afternoon with a novel and a cup of tea~

$4 for a bubble tea is totally the market price not overpriced at all, if you cant accept it, you are free to go somewhere else, i got to David's Tea a lot and their plain brewed tea goes almost to $3. And also keep in mind the big space they offer and unlimited time u can spend there using their internet, electricity, washroom. Unless you want them to start using cheap gross materials for the product then stop complaining or provide them a cheap source so they can lower the price.
bojangles / December 6, 2011 at 02:15 pm
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Is it just me or do most of these comments appear to be made by owners themselves? Tried this place the other week with a group of 4 friends. How many of us would come back? Unfortunately not a single one of us would be repeat customers. The food isn't bad but just not good. Same goes for their bubble tea which we all agreed was way overpriced for the quality. For a Taiwanese joint, there tea doesn't resemble anything like you would get in Taiwan.
tuk / December 9, 2011 at 10:56 pm
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Ya, I agree bojangles. A number of these comments do look like they've been written by the owners/employees of the resto :S kinda sad.
meh... / December 30, 2011 at 02:14 pm
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I am from Taiwan and the tea here is NOT Taiwanese. Pearl milk tea here same as 168, just cost 2 times as much for same garbage. Bean bag chairs were a not good idea, after 15 minutes it is very uncomfortable. Service was very slow even though the place was empty except for our table. Workers only pay attention the their cell phones.
uh / January 10, 2012 at 02:28 pm
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wtf, can a place not get some good feedback without accusations of people "sent by the owners"? No, it's not everyone's cup of tea, but some of the criticisms here are unfounded.

I've been here many times and the bubble tea is usually very good. Teashop 168 is fine, but the quality is not consistent. The prices at One Hour are comparable to other bubble tea places in Toronto (168, TenRen's, Chatime, etc.), except with that price you ALSO get the luxury of chilling in a beautiful space with free Internet for pretty much as long as you want.

If I want just the cheapest, best value bubble tea I can get, I'll stop by a 168 and be on my way, but when I'm at One Hour I'm there for the good drinks AND the space itself.
singaporefling / January 24, 2012 at 02:14 pm
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In response to above post:

It is blatantly obvious that some are comments posted by the owners/employees so the posters above have a valid point.

Also your point about the prices being comparable to the other bubble tea joints (ie. 168, TenRen's, Chatime) are fairly inaccurate as you guys charge more. I would also argue that the quality is not comparable to places like TenRen and especially Chatime. A valid comparison of quality would be 168 based on the powdery texture of your drinks but that is no way a compliment....

Most BBT places now all have free internet and seating so your argument for charging higher prices is also not valid.
meh / March 20, 2012 at 08:46 pm
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meh....reminds me of those larger places uptown. All style - no substance, mediocre bubble tea.
nien / May 6, 2012 at 10:22 pm
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walked by the other day, decided to give this place a try as I am a huge fan of great bubble tea and we had high hopes for this place. Unfortunately my girlfriend and I were very disappointed in the quality of the drinks here - it's your typical powdered bubble tea and we won't be visiting One Hour again.
Emma / September 23, 2012 at 09:46 am
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1. The space is beautiful: modern, chic, spacious, clean, and simple.
2. The staff are ok...service was a little bit slow. My drink was lukewarm, i ordered a "hot" milk tea. By the first few sips, it had cooled down a lot. I think this is something easily fixable though!
3. The staff was polite. I was just a little bit annoyed when one employee decided to go clean his mop and the bathroom at the back of the store... a little bit unsightly. I would prefer if they had a temporary divider to separate the bathroom from the seating area during bathroom maintenance and take it down (Especially since there are people seated right beside/in front of the bathroom entrance!)
4. The prices are decent!...they are offering free wifi, a great atmosphere, and service at your table...I would say prices are comparable to starbucks.
5. Great music selection!

Overall, I would come back, but it's not a place I would often visit.

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