I realize the majority of my Asian readers just rolled their eyes, but hear me out. First off, I don’t use the phrase ‘best in world’ lightly. I hate it when friends say a restaurant is “good” even though it’s not. I roll my eyes when my Asian friends say there’s better soup dumplings in Vancouver over Din Tai Fung (they are wrong! DTF is the best to how delicate the xlb is. It’d be like saying gulf coast oysters are the best since they are the biggest, ignoring the vastly superior tasting kumamoto oysters.) Aaaaaanyway….
What makes me a good judge
First off, I’m not the only one. When Ben lived in Seattle, he raved about them too. I’ve had bubble tea in Hong Kong, Taiwan, New York, San Fran, etc so I feel I can make this call. It’s not like I’ve only ever had sirloin steak and think Outback is the best in the world. I feel my travels give me credibility here.
Why are they the best
First off, the tea is brewed from actual tea leaves (most of the big shops use powder (you CAN taste the difference.) Secondly, the boba is hands down the best. The consistency is always perfect (I don’t say that lightly.) They soak it in honey I believe. Sweet and the texture is Goldilocks level – not too chewy or too soft. Third, every drink is hand shaken and taste tested by the owner before he pours it into your cup (granted a machine shaker can probably achieve the same thing.) Four, the menu is super limited – only 4 types of drinks every day. They’ll then have a daily drink special a few times a week. Lastly, they apparently DGAF about making money. Let me explain:
They opened up in one of those coffee stands behind a gas station. They became so popular that it started a traffic jam every weekend. I think eventually the gas station owner had to kick them out due to the traffic problems. They then moved into a storefront, and kept the name “Drive Thru Boba” which confused the landlord. I mean, I would have just shortened it to “DTB” since that’s what people refer to them as. NOPE! They kept the full name without an actual drive through at the new location.
The biggest WTF moment was when they moved to ‘food truck hours,’ meaning you never know when they are open. You have to go to their Facebook page every time before you drive over because you never know when they are open. Here is this week’s hours (notice how Sunday is closed.) As you can see, they are only open 6 hours a day (24 hrs total this week.) Oh and don’t even bother showing up at 5PM because once they run out, they are most likely not making anymore for the day. And even when you show up, there could be a long line (if I see more than 5 people standing outside, I abandon ship!) They are the Soup Nazi of bubble tea! I think deep down, they abuse us like this just to keep us wanting more. I mean, if I’m in the area, I’m gonna check FB and stop by. Order one to drink ASAP and save one for tomorrow morning (sometimes the 2nd one doesn’t make it to the next day.) I must have Stockhome syndrome.
If you are in the Seattle Bellevue area, check their Facebook page and if they are open, stop on by. Order the milk tea with half boba, half coffee jelly, 50% sugar. You will most likely go, “I don’t know what Vinh is talking about. It’s okay but not that great.” Then when you go home and have bubble tea again somewhere else, you’ll think back, “You know what, I think DTB was actually better.” BOOM!