What do brown sugar, tapioca, and “cheese foam” have in common? If you’re asking, you may still need to become a fan of bubble tea, which can include any of those ingredients. But you can get to know the drink better in the Hobby Area District at the DABOBA chain’s newest location in a shopping center off the I-45 feeder near Airport Boulevard.
DABOBA-Southeast Houston opened in October under the stewardship of owner Linh Nguyen.
Bubble tea – also known as boba tea, pearl milk tea, or tapioca milk tea – is a beverage served hot or cold and usually made with a tea base as well as milk, sugar, and a variety of tapioca pearls, known by some as boba. It can have a range of added flavorings.
The drink originated in Taiwan in the 1980s and made its way to the U.S. within the next decade. The beverage, in all its variations, has attracted fans worldwide; the bubble tea market has grown tremendously in the U.S. and globally, a trend that is expected to continue.
The DABOBA franchise was formed in 2018 in Malaysia. It has locations in nine U.S. cities, including Dallas, San Diego, New York, Phoenix, Seattle, Miami, and Houston.
DABOBA’s southeast location is the second to open in Houston. The first opened in February 2022 in the International Management District on the western end of Bellaire Boulevard.
On the menu: Dozens of varieties, some with intriguing toppings such as cheese foam and roasted brown sugar, in addition to coffee-based drinks and yogurt-based fruit smoothies. They also serve hot food such as beignets, fried chicken, and shrimp tempura.
Shop owner Nguyen is an entrepreneur who was encouraged to start the business by her family, some of whom are also tea shop owners. She emphasizes the freshness of DABOBA’s offerings.
“All the things we serve are fresh,” she said. “We always make fresh food; even our smoothies contain only fresh fruit. So that really makes it healthier.”
On a recent visit, a culturally diverse, steady stream of customers ordered a wide variety of items off the menu.
“This food is calling my name,” said a customer as he approached the counter.
The staff consists mainly of college students; they know the menu well and work together to ensure Nguyen’s vision of excellent customer service. The restaurant is spacious, has a fun décor, and is impeccably clean.
Customers are raving about DABOBA. Comments from the restaurant’s Facebook page include the following:
“The drinks are very good!!! Roasted Brown Sugar Pearl Fresh Milk drink is my favorite. Love this place!!! Definitely will come back to try out more!”
“I ordered the popular Roasted Brown Sugar Pearl Fresh Milk … the pearl boba was sooo delicious! I also tried the Honey Golden Green Milk Tea. The place was very bright, chic, and IG picture-ready. We enjoyed the outdoor seating area. I can’t wait to try out the rest of the flavored bobas.”
— By Ruth Nasrullah