In Los Angeles’ diverse culinary and cultural communities, many locals have sampled boba — or bubble tea — of some sort. Invented in the 1980s in Taiwan, boba has become a staple urban drink. Dana Café Boba attempts to cater to this local desire for boba, but it falls short with the quality of its drinks.
Dana Café Boba is a relatively new establishment that occupies a tiny corner on South Vermont Avenue and West 43rd Street. Patrons passing by would risk missing the tiny store, if not for a bright yellow sign above the doorway. Upon entering the cafe, customers are confronted with bright yellow and green walls, alongside quirky posters that diagram boba’s complex creation.
The interior was not designed for waiting customers; the majority of the space was dominated by the kitchen and service counter. Stools pushed up against the window offered a place for guests to sit while their drinks were made, but most of their seating was offered outside the store.
In terms of food, Dana Café Boba offered little variety. Cheetos with cheese sauce and ice cream cones were advertised, but there were no unique products. Instead, the main focus was on their many drinks. From slushes to shakes to frosty milk, the shop featured a wide variety of options for a wide variety of tastes. Drinks cost $3.95 while coffee and food items ranged from $1.50 to $6. Customers could also choose to include add-ons for an additional price. The drink prices were pleasantly low, especially on a college student’s budget.
However, the largest section of the menu was Dana’s slushes. With 30 flavors ranging from watermelon to Thai tea, there is a slush flavor for every guest. The strawberry slush was especially refreshing; the lightness of the drink was a satisfying treat without overwhelming taste. The texture was smooth, and the boba complemented it well.
The mango shaved ice, one of the cafe’s non-drink options, failed to meet the level of its slush drinks. Served in a cup rather than a bowl, the dish mixed mango chunks, shaved ice, ice cream and boba together. Though the product was tasty, the combination of ingredients was disappointing. There was not enough ice, too much mango and an overwhelming amount of boba.
The peach smoothie also did not meet expectations. Although slushes and smoothies may seem simple, a smoothie’s ingredients are integral to its overall presentation and taste. The structure of the peach smoothie did not maintain itself for long, and it quickly separated into three distinct layers: boba, liquids and solid peach chunks. The mix of fruits, drink and boba created an unpleasant consistency and bitterness that were repugnant to taste buds.
The true star of bubble tea is not meant to be the drinks — it’s the boba. Unfortunately, the boba itself posed a problem in most of the drinks. The texture ranged from perfectly chewy boba to half-frozen, crunchy balls. Overall, the boba’s textures remained inconsistent in the drinks, especially in the strawberry slush. Though most of the boba pieces were easy to chew, the select few frozen pieces ruined the balance of the drink and demonstrated the shop’s careless drink creation.
Upon sampling their various offerings, it appears that Dana Café Boba is more an attempt to ride the coattails of the current boba trend rather than create quality beverages.