It's not just famous chains and specialty shops serving up boba. Bubble tea is everywhere — including in places where you might not expect to find it.
Pearl’s Korean BBQ
Pearls’s is known for plates like the meat jun combo plate, my favorite, which I always share with my mom. Also on the menu, way down between soft drinks and bottled water, are six $4.99 bubble teas in taro, milk tea, lychee, honeydew, strawberry and Oreo flavors. They shine vibrantly and taste as legit as something you’d find at a boba place.
Multiple locations • pearlskoreanbbq.com
Domo Cafe recently expanded from Kapiolani Boulevard across the Hawai‘i Convention Center to a second spot in Kāhala. The menu includes sushi, sashimi, poke bowls, salads — and bubble teas. Check out the flavors: $4.99 gets you a choice of strawberry, banana, pineapple, papaya, watermelon, honeydew, taro, coconut or pina colada. The Kāhala store is running a grand-opening special where you get 20% off anything through January 2021.
Kokonuts Shave Ice & Snacks
Known as the place where former President Barack Obama stops for shave ice (lemon-lime and cherry), Kokonuts also has acai bowls, crepes, ice cream shakes and sundaes, and a wide selection of candy and snacks. And bubble tea. In a local twist, you can get mochi balls instead of tapioca pearls. I tried a matcha bubble tea with mochi balls, and it was ono with a great consistency. Kokonuts is in Koko Marina Center by Paina Cafe and Moena Sweets.
7192 Kalanianaole Hwy Ste E121 • Hawaii Kai • 396-8809 • @kokonutsshaveicesnacks
This Hong Kong-style café specializes in Chinese food, of course, plus pastas, risotto and milk tea that comes hot ($4.95) or iced ($5.50). I get mine with shrimp scampi spaghetti. The milky black tea is unsweetened but comes with simple syrup on the side; you add to taste for a customized sweetness level.
2919 Kapiolani Blvd. Ste. 218 • Kaimuki • 735-3888 • @anytime_cafe_
Lin’s Hawaiian Snacks
This Kakaako store has shelves holding practically every imaginable crack seed and local snack you can think of — plus a counter selling shave ice and drinks. Besides the blended fruity drinks and blended milk teas, you can add boba to any drink on the menu, including iced teas, smoothies and shakes. Most popular flavors are green tea, taro, honeydew, lychee and strawberry but there are tons more, all creamy and $4 for regular, $4.50 for large.