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Drinks Restaurants Sweets The Katchup

As Boba Goes Mainstream, Dessert Innovators Get Creative With The Drink

As bubble tea, or boba, has continued to grow in popularity across the United States, many dessert shops have popped up that don’t just specialize in boba, but turn it into mind-boggling, delicious desserts.

Even while the rest of the industry, including fast food giants like Dunkin’, is just starting to catch on, many places are already taking boba to the next level.

Ty Tran, founder of Rice Feed and Asians Never Die, feels that the US is in a “boutique” phase of boba right now, even as mainstream chains start to catch on to the hype.

“They’re using natural products, good, high quality ingredients, and they’re also using boba made in the US,” he said on Foodbeast’s The Katchup podcast.

As boba sees both a growth in quality and distribution, it’s also finding its way out of the drink menu and into several tasty sweets. Below are just a few examples of the different tasty ways you can enjoy boba that restaurants are doing to get creative with the popular tapioca pearls.

Creme Brûlée Boba

Feng Cha, a fast-growing global teahouse with several US locations, adds the standard components of creme brûlée to the top of their boba drinks for a fun, interactive experience that adds a unique twist to their beverages.

Boba Stuffed Cream Puffs

While a few bakeries are starting to catch onto this trend, this particular version comes from Alimama in New York City. They stuff tapioca pearls into the cream filling for their choux buns, giving you multiple levels of textures in each bite of these tantalizing treats.

Boba-Stuffed Cake

The next iteration of lava cakes, this variation from Orange County’s Hok Tea unveils a motherlode of pearls when you split the cake open.

Gallon-Sized Boba Pouch

While this really is just a super-sized drink, with it comes 1) the ability to drink as much boba as you want and save some for later, and 2) get some nostalgia in with the juice pouch-shaped container this gallon of boba and milk tea comes in. Stock up on this one at Pulp Juice Bar in Orange, California.

Boba Toast

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Would you try this boba toast? . Today I’d like you to do some googling. Find out what the police budget is for the city you live in. Then find out what the budgets are for mental health, childcare, housing, and social programs. . You will likely find that there is a huge disparity in the budgets. Police brutality aside, how can we keep accepting budgets for all our social services being cut when police budgets keep going up? . . . 📸 @tainan_hsien #️⃣ Show your boba love with #bobalove . . . . . . . . . . . #bubbletea #subtleasiantraits #bubbles #matcha #bbt #bobatea #chatime #boba #bobalife #tapioca #bubbletealover #teatime #brownsugarboba #bobaislife #bobapearls #milktea #bobameup #bobawasted #milkteaaddict #kpop #greentea #bobalover #bobalovers

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Both French Toast and regular toast forms of this exist, but in each case, the build is the same. Start with toasty bread, add on some custard/cream, and a layer of tapioca pearls for some extra texture. This particular version comes from Lang Lang Bie Ku (which means, Don’t Cry, Lang Lang) in Tainan.

Boba Egg Tarts

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吃不到肯德基!那麼就來吃吃台南超人氣蛋撻!任選三個只要100元!不用凌晨去排隊,好吃又好買~ – 主打每日現烤的葡式蛋塔、另外還有手工鮮奶布丁! 也提供宅配到府!外縣市的朋友要吃也可以~ 使高成本的初鹿牧場牛奶和藍絲可動物性鮮奶油、龍眼蜂蜜、土雞蛋!嚴選食材吃起來更安心!口味也超多選擇! 🔺推薦必吃原味蛋撻!經典永流傳,外酥香裡頭濃濃蛋奶餡,帶點焦糖香氣超迷人! 🔺人氣必買QQ波霸蛋塔!除了上頭的波霸,裡頭內餡也有Q彈的波霸口感!買回家加熱後一樣好吃! 🔺夏日清爽首推蜂蜜檸檬蛋塔,選用天然蜂蜜和新鮮檸檬搭配!口感酸香帶甜,吃起來更不膩口! 🔺喜歡甜香氣的推推香蕉巧克力和焦糖那提! – 🔺深藏原味布丁/ 巧克力布丁 純手工鮮奶製作!不加水奶香風味十足!口感綿密帶扎實的!原味濃濃的奶香和焦糖風味,喜歡巧克力的推推濃厚帶苦甜的巧克力! ——————————————————— 香蕉巧克力 $40 濃情巧克力 $40 QQ波霸蛋塔 $40 深藏原味蛋撻 $40 焦糖那提蛋塔 $40 蜂蜜檸檬蛋塔 $40 任選三入 $100 / 巧克力布丁 $40 深藏原味布丁 $40 ——————————————————— 🏠Mr.Z烘焙小棧海安店/波霸蛋塔/台南蛋塔/葡式蛋塔/手工鮮奶布丁/伴手禮 ☎️ 06-2919200 ⏰平日14:00-21:00 ⏰假日12:00-21:00 (週二公休) 🚗台南市中西區海安路二段118號 ——————————————————— #iseetaiwan#instameettaiwan#foodie #popyummy#yummyday#台南下午茶 #台南美食#台南甜點#高雄美食#烘焙小棧 #海安路#國華街美食#海安路美食#波霸蛋塔 #ミスタードーナツポケモン#ポンデリング #珍珠#珍珠蛋塔#台南伴手禮

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With Taiwan being the epicenter of boba, it’s no surprise that more than a few creative concoctions come from there. A personal favorite of mine would be this Boba Egg Tart from Mr. Z’s Egg Tarts in Tainan. The combo of crisp pastry, sweet eggy custard, and chewy tapioca pearls sounds like a match made in dessert heaven.

Brown Sugar Boba Ice Cream Bars

Ever since these were spotted in 99 Ranch markets late last year, Asian-American communities in the United States (including the popular group Subtle Asian Traits) have been going nuts for these ice cream bars. There are now a few variations you can find in several Asian grocers, as well as flavors like melon or ube that go beyond the brown sugar milk tea these pops are inspired by.

Boba Souffle Pancakes

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Social distance may not be your cup of (boba) tea, but dumpling a grump! Spread your fluff and positivi-tea to those around you, especially during these crazy times! ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Bookmark this for later when it’s all over! After all, who can say no to fluffy boba #soufflepancake, brown sugar boba and matcha, and freshly wrappped #dumplings? 🥟 Most people want the pancakes at @cloud9cafe_hi, but I say, you can’t leave without ordering a plate (or two) of the dumplings! 😋⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ 🍽Brown Sugar Boba Soufflé Pancake, Pork Dumplings⁣⁣ 🥛Brown Sugar Boba Milk, Matcha Milk with Brown Sugar Boba⁣⁣ 📍Cloud 9 Cafe⁣⁣ Honolulu, Hawaii⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣_____________________________________⁣ #catsdietplan #soufflepancakes #dumplingsfordays #dumplinglove #brownsugarbobamilk #yelphawaii #bobapancake #hawaiieats #catsdietoahu

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Fluffy Japanese souffle pancakes are another wildly popular dish right now. Combining the Japanese dish with the flavors of Taiwanese pearl milk tea adds levels of sugary taste and texture that will leave any sweet tooth satisfied. For this exact version, head to Cloud Nine Cafe in Hawaii.

Boba Basque Burnt Cheesecake

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So happy to be able to try this amazing basque burnt cheesecake @dabobamelbourne It was a limited item on Queen’s Birthday, so I rushed there to get my hands on one!🏃🏻‍♀️ . DABOBA BASQUE BURNT CHEESECAKE Basque burnt cheesecake with the choice of cheese, Daboba pearls and Oreo toppings. . Strong smoky, caramelised and sweet cream cheese flavour. The cheesecake was soft and spongy in the centre. The cheese foam was salty and cheesy, with a runny consistency. The boba pearls were soft and chewy, and the chocolaty Oreo crumbs added a crunchy texture. All the toppings goes well with the cheesecake. 😋👍🏻 . Price: $7.00 (+$1.00 for cheese and boba; +$1.00 for Oreo) . Rating: . Appearance: ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 (The cheesecake looked great, but maybe not with the Oreo pieces.🤔) . Taste: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 (Sooo good! Small but perfect size!) . . My first time trying a basque burnt cheesecake, and I think it’s one of my new favourite desserts.🥰 Thank you #dabobamelbourne for such a delicious treat.💕 Will review their drinks soon! So 👀 out! . . . #daboba #daboba熊黑堂 #melbournebubbletea #bubbleteamelbourne #melbourneboba #boba #bubbletea #bobatea #basquecheesecake #basqueburntcheesecake #brownsugarboba #foodie #melbournefoodie #melbournefoodies #foodiemelbourne #melbournedessert #melbournefoodblogger #desserts #bobadessert #bobacake #cheesecake #foodiegram #foodporn #instafood #bobaaddict #melbfood #melbournefood #dessert #dessertpics

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Basque Burnt Cheesecake is a variety on the classic dessert invented in Spain roughly 30 years ago. In 2020, it’s become a quarantine cooking favorite, but has also made it’s way to dessert menus. As that has coincided with boba-themed treats, it was only a matter of time until someone made a boba-topped Basque Burnt Cheesecake. Find this variety at Daboba in Melbourne, Australia.

Categories
Technology

Boba Milk Tea And Tamale Emojis Are Finally Arriving

Photo Courtesy of Emojipedia & Apple

There have been hundreds of afternoons where a quick pick-up of some refreshing honey milk tea with boba was desperately needed to fuel the occasional sleepy colleague and I. While an emoji wasn’t necessary to express our bubble tea cravings, it would have been more than welcome had it existed. 

Now it does.

Last Friday was World Emoji Day, and with it came the announcement of a new emoji update for Facebook, Google, and Apple scheduled to launch in the latter half of 2020. 

The new emojis revealed included a new ‘Bubble Tea‘ emoji and ‘Tamale‘ icon, reports Social Media Today

Hopefully, once this pandemic’s over and you’re trying to get some boba or tamales with friends, you’ll be able to express your excitement in emoji form. In the meantime, I’ll be working on a tamale boba truck concept. That sounds so fire right now. 

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Drinks Fast Food What's New

Dunkin’ Is Testing Boba In Iced Tea And Coffee Forms

Boba and milk tea have become wildly popular across the entire United States. Chains featuring the drink and tapioca balls have popped up at locations just about everywhere, and there’s even creative versions like creme brûlée topped boba that have captivated the country.

In a sign that big brands are really starting to look at the popular beverage topping, Dunkin’ has begun testing a couple of drinks that contain boba on the East Coast.

Dunkin’ boba images courtesy of Dunkin’. Background image taken by Joan Oger // Unsplash

Available now through mid-August, according to Mass Live, two variations are being served: Bubble Iced Coffee, and Bubble Iced Tea. Dunkin’ confirmed to Foodbeast that these are made with brown sugar-flavored syrup, and the boba are brown sugar-flavored as well.

Dunkin’s description of the drinks are as follows: “Dunkin’s signature beverages are sweetened with brown sugar syrup and new brown sugar-flavored bubbles for delicious sweetness you both can sip and chew. Both tasty new beverages are served with a special, extra-wide Bubble paper straw.”

The drinks are part of a larger batch of different beverages being tested across the Northeast. Dunkin’s take on boba is offered at five locations in New York, as well as five locations in Massachusetts. Those locations can be found below:

4 Harding Ave.LudlowMA, 01056
112 N. Genesee St.UticaNY, 13502
1701 Black River Blvd. NRomeNY, 13440
751 Meadow St.ChicopeeMA, 01013
55 Maple St.East LongmeadowMA, 01028
694 Page Blvd.SpringfieldMA, 01104
1155 Erie Blvd., WRomeNY, 13440
81 Oriskany Blvd.WhitesboroNY, 13492
9221 River Rd.MarcyNY, 13403
568 Belmont Ave.SpringfieldMA, 01108

Dunkin’ is not the first major American chain to have sold boba in the US, as Panda Express has had it at their Tea Bar locations for a while now. However, this is the first time a major fast food chain is offering the drinks out of one of their regular locations.

Categories
Drinks Fast Food What's New

Del Taco Is First Major Fast Food Chain To Add Popping Boba To Their Menu

Popping boba, encapsulated pearls that burst when you bite into them, have yet to make it onto the menus of major fast food chains in America. While they’ve become popular at froyo shops — the concept of boba and its popularity have been a thing for a while now — it has yet to penetrate the biggest chains in food.

Photo courtesy of Del Taco

That all changed with Del Taco’s most recent introduction, Sprite Poppers. Made with popping boba topped over Sprite and ice, the new drinks mark the first time a major fast food chain has added the unique topping to their menu.

Del Taco’s offer consists of two flavors, mango or cherry popping boba, that are piled on top of the iced beverage. The drinks cost $1.29 each, roughly the same price as a small soft drink.

For those curious, popping boba is typically made by encapsulating a liquid, such as juice or flavored syrup, within a “shell” made from a calcium solution and sodium alginate, which is a gelling protein found in seaweed. It’s the reaction between the calcium and alginate protein that leads to the gel-like capsules to form.

They’re typically difficult to make at scale, making Del Taco’s addition of these drinks noteworthy. Whether it leads to more popping boba drinks coming to fast food, or even the addition of real boba itself, remains to be seen.

Del Taco’s Sprite Poppers will be available for a limited time.

Categories
Celebrity Grub Restaurants Video

This YouTuber’s Boba Shop Is Pioneering American-Born Chinese Cuisine

Chinese and Taiwanese food is slowly starting to have a renaissance movement in the United States. This is clear from the prevalence of renowned dim sum chains like Din Tai Fung, the emergence of hot pot, and the proliferation of boba shops across the country.

Despite all of this, the most popular Chinese dishes in the USA are still Chinese-American, rather than Chinese. General Tso’s Chicken and orange chicken dominate the palates, all because Chinese food in the US was engineered around Western palates first, making the food sweeter and less authentic to what you can get in China and Taiwan.

In Los Angeles, restaurants are starting to open up that push back against that concept. Instead of engineering Chinese food to work for American tastes, they’re twisting up beloved American dishes to work with the traditional flavors of China and Taiwan. While you might expect to find this through the lens of fine dining, one of the pioneers of this movement is a small boba shop and cafe in the heart of LA’s San Gabriel Valley.

The spot is called Bopomofo Cafe, a modern take on boba and American-born Chinese food. Bopomofo, which is named after the first four letters of the Taiwanese Mandarin alphabet, is co-owned by Philip Wang, one of the main creative forces behind Asian-American YouTube and digital media powerhouse Wong Fu Productions. Wang, together with his co-owner Eric Wang and chef Andrew Park, have put together a revolutionary menu that fuses Chinese, Taiwanese, and American together, but not catering to the “American runs on sweet” mantra.

“We always thought that there’s new American food,” Wang told Foodbeast, “but there’s no new real Asian-American food, and that’s kind of how we saw our menu.”

As a result, you get dishes that explode with equal, stunning amounts of creativity and flavor. The gold standard at Bopomofo is the Ma Po Tofu Tater Tots, which swaps out the Sichuan classic in a modern rendition of chili cheese tots. Since mapo tofu is typically served over rice, the crunch and fattiness of the tots is an unexpected yet welcome contrast that elevates both dishes this one is inspired by.

Other such innovative items on Bopomofo’s menu include a Walnut Shrimp Burger, nachos made from Chinese scallion pancakes and topped with braised pork belly, a fried chicken sandwich modeled on Taiwanese flavors and cooking techniques, and a “MOFO Club” inspired by Wang’s travels to Taiwan.

Bopomofo keeps that creativity going in their drink selection as well. Whether it’s a beet-colored Taro Milk or a dreamsicle-like take on Orange Bang! (called Orange Wang), you get nostalgia yet novelty in every sip and bite of the cuisine served up here.

With that creativity, Wang and his team are pushing the envelope of what it can mean to combine American, Chinese, and Taiwanese flavors. By staying true to core Chinese and Taiwanese flavors, but still using ingredients familiar to Americans, the food here becomes a potential pathway to explore authentic Chinese and Taiwanese tastes through an American lens.

To learn more about Bopomofo, watch the above episode of Foodbeast’s News Bites that features the cafe.

Categories
Culture The Katchup

Why Boba Guys Refuses To Ban MAGA Hats From Its Restaurants

Illustration by Sam Brosnan/Foodbeast
Conversations and quotes in this article have been transcribed from the Foodbeast Katchup podcast episode titled “#94: Boba Guys Is For The Culture Pt. 2,” out now on Spotify, Anchor.FM and the Apple Podcasts App.

The current mainstream political atmosphere in the U.S. has an all-or-nothing, “choose your side” feel, and there’s very little room for moderates who see see the arguments from both ends of the political spectrum, as it can be misconstrued as choosing the wrong side, regardless of explanation.

That is the dilemma that Boba Guys co-founder Andrew Chau found himself in when he was asked about fellow Bay Area chef, Kenji Lopez-Alt, who tweeted (and later retracted) that he would ban customers wearing the infamous, red  “Make America Great Again” hats made in support of President Donald Trump.

The hat itself is polarizing, as to many, it is a symbol of hate that they feel has accrued under the Trump administration. To others, it is seen as a sign of change they wished to see under the administration.

Chau, who is outspoken about his beliefs, made it clear that he is not a fan of the hat and the baggage it comes with. With that said, it didn’t sit right with him to take the type of stance that would lead to banning customers from his Boba Guys locations.

Chau detailed the decision on the Foodbeast Katchup Podcast, and explained why he did what he did (The timestamped segment of the podcast begins at: 9:27).

“I’m from California. I’m from San Francisco. Everyone should know where we stand… you know what side of the world we’re on,” Chau said. “My stance is… I don’t ban them, but I’m like, if you cause trouble, you’re on the radar. But I’m not into banning.”

When Chef Lopez-Alt issued his statement on the hat, Chau was immediately asked by his peers, and even his own staff, if he would follow suit. He did his best to explain what he wanted to achieve with his stance on the matter, and while it did not sit well with some, it was a decision he stood by.

“It comes back to dialogue. We forgot how to talk about difficult things,” Chau said. “I said we won’t ban MAGA hats because I think it stops dialogue. The goal is bridging cultures, and you can’t achieve the goal of bridging cultures if I ban MAGA hats.”

He then made sure his guests knew that he was not going to tolerate anyone using the hat to purposely incite problems.

 

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In the podcast episode, Chau went pretty deep into culture, food’s role in it, and ways he feels culture can be improved through empathy.

While his MAGA hat decision wasn’t a popular one, it is a form of diplomacy that isn’t often deployed in the U.S. these days.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Boba Cakes Are Here, Are We Ready To Ride That Wave?

In Instagram’s heightened influence on how we eat within the past couple of years, the proliferation of wild concoctions and foods especially made “for the ‘Gram” have become the norm. Trends have come and gone while the pasta that’s stuck to the proverbial wall have become mainstays due to achieving that unique appeal of simply being an item that we’d crave and need regularly as opposed to a one-time photo-op.

The latest player in the Game of ‘Grams for foodies are boba cakes, a combo of words that I thought would only be possible being mentioned as separate entities in one sentence. But here we are in 2019, faced with the delicious aspect of soft, chewy, and mildly sweet tapioca balls occupying the space within a cake usually reserved for sweet creams and frosting of different sorts.

As you can see by the above clip from Hok Tea in Westminster, California, the boba cake concept is prime content for Instagram feeds, what with the jaw-dropping reveal of a mini Nutella cake being chockfull of boba balls. Hok Tea also serves an ube boba cake that’s covered by a layer of ube cream cheese. Yeah, that part. And while this very notion of boba balls inside moist cakes can be appalling to some, it’s more so a tempting fusion that warrants curious palates like mine to sink our teeth into. I mean, what could go wrong? Boba in cake — where do I sign up?

As for the inspiration behind the boba cakes, Hok Tea commented, “The idea of the boba cake originated in Asia and became very popular. We always want to create a unique product that seems to represent both Western and Eastern culture. From there we came up with an idea to merge both cake and boba together.”

Categories
#foodbeast Drinks FOODBEAST Sweets Video

This Immersive Tea Shop Is As Much An Experience As It Is A Boba Lover’s Dream

Boba tea is something that is near and dear to me. It’s love, I’m sure of it. I could stuff myself stupid on any meal and still highly consider grabbing some boba if there was a tea shop within a five minute drive’s distance. But as much as I indulged in the experience often, it’s valid to wonder, ‘Could hitting up the tea shop be any better?’ Thanks to Percolate, in Los Angeles, CA, throwing in an experiential element into it all brings that ‘better’ part into the equation.

Truly it’s a shop that is ahead of the curve by providing an immersive experience to patrons by stimulating their senses through an interactive touchscreen ordering system that even remembers your favorite orders, a “smell wall” that lets you take in the aromas of various colorful tea leaves, glass percolate globes that measure the perfect tea to water ratio and provide the optimal heat specific to each varietal, small-batch boba that’s made from scratch in-house, and buzzworthy offerings like cheese tea foam and sparkling tea.

Getting mad science boba vibes? Good, me too.

Photos: Peter Pham