Astute customers may have noticed a recent addition to Dinkytown’s Wonders Ice Cream location: In addition to the usual rolled ice cream sundaes, there’s now an extensive lineup of milk teas, smoothies, specialty drinks, and tea infusions from Boba King.
Boba King grew out of an extended family’s love for boba. May Lee, who owns the business with her husband, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law, explains that family gatherings always ended with a boba tea run. As the family grew, so did the tab—so they started making it at home instead, challenging each other to craft creative drinks.
“We started making really good drinks, in my opinion,” Lee says. “It was something that everyone, from grandparents to toddlers, could enjoy. We wanted to share that.”
Boba King debuted last April at events like the Little Mekong Night Market. The collaboration with Wonders Ice Cream launched with a February grand opening and is Boba King’s first storefront.
Lee acknowledges that there are plenty of boba tea shops in the Twin Cities, including in Dinkytown. “What makes us different is that customer satisfaction comes first,” she says. “We want to grow something for the community.”
For example, Boba King sponsors a women’s flag football team as well as cultural events for the Cambodian Students Association of Minnesota at the U. There’s a shelf of board games, complimentary popcorn, weekend karaoke, and an all-around welcoming atmosphere that encourages customers to linger.
Lee also highlights the focus on high-quality ingredients. Syrups are made in-house, and boba pearls are made fresh daily. Many drinks, like the tea infusions, feature fresh fruit. Dairy-free options are available, and drinks can be ordered in a handy pouch that Lee likens to “an adult Capri Sun.” There are a whole bunch of options—eight milk teas, ten-plus smoothies, and a bunch of specialty drinks and tea infusions—with a bunch of additional toppings you can add for 50 cents a pop.
We sampled two of Boba King’s specialty drinks, the strawberry cheesecake and the strawberry matcha. The cheesecake drink is made by blending cheesecake bites into a strawberry smoothie, and then the concoction is topped with cheese mousse and additional cheesecake bites. It’s like a lighter version of a shake, with a mostly icy texture and a welcome touch of creamy indulgence.
The strawberry matcha was our favorite, though: A pleasantly intense matcha note, a hint of strawberry, and plenty of chewy boba pearls. Lee mentioned that the boba pearls have garnered plenty positive feedback from customers—“They’re a good consistency: soft, chewy, and sweet.”
The tea infusions are another solid choice—we tried the Tropical Twist and the Mango Passion, both of which are fruit-forward and refreshing. You'll likely appreciate, as we did, that the sweetness level can be adjusted to order—in addition to “standard” there’s “less” (50 percent) and “extra” (120 percent).
Although Boba King’s first brick-and-mortar location has only been open for a few months, Lee's already looking at the next step. “We’re working on a few more locations,” she says. “The goal is Roseville, the northern suburbs—Maple Grove, Brooklyn Park.”
Meanwhile, in a nod to the limited parking options in Dinkytown, Boba King plans to roll out an express ordering option with car-side delivery. Other plans include expanding the menu to include warm drinks and a handful of light appetizers like pastry buns or Asian street foods. Boba flights are coming soon: Similar to beer flights, customers can sample a few different beverages in eight-ounce cups, complete with toppings and scaled-down straws. Stay tuned for hybrid items, such as a boba tea with rolled ice cream and rolled ice cream sundaes topped with boba pearls.
“We’re not a big chain,” says Lee. “It’s a fun environment here—games, music, patio seating in the summer. It’s comfortable, and not just grab-and-go.”
318 14th Ave. SE, Minneapolis
Sunday to Thursday 12 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 12 to 10 p.m.