The Truck: Drive Thru Boba, located in Bellevue on 3727 Factoria Boulevard SE.
The Fare: Bubble tea, ice cream and curry balls.
The Stop: If you can get a Whopper and a Blizzard delivered to your car, then why not bubble tea?
Sharing a parking lot with the 76 Gas Station and the Nordstrom Rack practically an arm’s length away, married couple Alex Jorge and Karen Wu’s drive-thru bubble tea shack is as strategically situated as a Paleo food truck outside a Crossfit gym (actually, Seattle’s first paleo truck, Outside the Box is in the making!).
Bubble Tea, also referred to as boba tea, is a tea-based drink mixed with milk or fruit. Originating in East Asia and regularly consumed in warmer cities like Hong Kong and Singapore, bubble tea is becoming more commonplace in the United States.
Having traveled extensively through Hong Kong and Taiwan, the couple shares a love of Asian cuisine done right. They order a lot of their ingredients from Taiwan and even follow the tradition of brewing Hong Kong-styled milk tea in pantyhose to yield a smoother tea.
Even though the duo works at laser speed to crank out each order at this coffee stand-sized drive thru, be patient because this isn’t another powder-based instant bubble tea concoction. Jorge and Wu’s boba drink creations are made from scratch. They work the stainless steel cocktail shakers like masters who could give any Seattle bartender a run for her money.
The result is a tasty bubble tea that tastes like it was actually made from tea and fruit instead of a watermelon jolly rancher. You can also control the gauge on the sweetness at 25%, 50%, and 100%, although the drinks don’t start off being all that sweet.
$2.50 gets you a small, while $3 gets you a grande. For 25 cents more, you can dress up your boba with tapioca balls. Jorge and Wu’s rendition of the balls is firm and way more desirable than the overly slick and mushy ones I have experienced at other bubble tea joints. The caramel pudding and aloe bits are also popular add-ons.
Feeling more like ice cream? The drive thru carries four frozen treat flavors, all which they make onsite: Hong Kong Style Milk Tea, Thai Tea, Matcha Tea, and Vietnamese Coffee.
Bonus: $3 gets you a savory companion for your boba – five curry fish balls. The broth was so good I wish I had rice or a hunk of bread to soak up every bit.
Take note: Getting there early is a good way to go. Drive Thru Boba is already developing a loyal following. Plus, you never know when a family of polygamists will come by and order 30 fruit smoothies, clearing out the drive thru’s stash for that day. That actually happened a few days ago. Ok, not sure about the polygamy part, but a clan did come by on Sunday and order 30 fruit smoothies.
If you love Asian favorites such as red bean and black sesame, Drive Thru Boba has been known to offer adzuki bean bubble tea and black sesame ice cream as specials, so follow their Facebook page to hear about specials firsthand.
Looking for a unique catering option for your next event? They do that too.
First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on September 11th, 2012