A new bubble tea shop is set to open soon at 1961 N. Peacehaven Road in the Whitaker Square shopping center.
Miki Ho and Lila Luttrell plan to open Momo Ashi in the next month or so in the space formerly occupied by Café Vara Du. The café closed last October during the pandemic after only a year in operation.
Ho, who is from Hong Kong, and Luttrell, who is from Indonesia, said they are both veteran employees of Japanese restaurants. But this is their first venture as owners.
Bubble tea goes by many names — including bobo tea, bobo juice and pearl milk tea — and comes in many forms. But it essentially is chilled, sweetened milk tea with black tapioca pearls (or balls) in it. Fruit or fruit juice is a popular addition.
Bubble tea’s origin is somewhat fuzzy, but most people agree that it originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. One story is that the owner of a teahouse imitated the Japanese way of making iced coffee with tea, and then stirred a sweetened pudding with tapioca balls into the iced tea.
Whatever its origin, bubble tea quickly spread throughout Asia, and in recent years has become trendy in the United States.
Ho and Luttrell said that local fans of bubble tea often drive to Greensboro to satisfy their craving but that it’s harder to find in Winston-Salem.
Only one other Winston-Salem shop, Rena Marie’s Coffee & Bubble Tea on Trade Street downtown, specializes in bubble tea. It also is sold at Cafe Gelato.
Momo Ashi Tea & Snack Bar originated in Flushing, N.Y., in Queens in 2017. Ho said that Momo Ashi founder Fiona Cheng, a native of Taiwan, is a good friend of her sister’s. Ho and Luttrell said they have an agreement with Cheng to use the name, logo and concept — including the pink decor and signature cat and dog illustrations. “We went to her New York store for training, and we order our equipment and materials from her,” Ho said.
In addition to serving bubble tea, the new Momo Ashi will serve sweet and savory snacks that are popular in Japan and Taiwan. These will include waffles, toasts and “pawnini” sandwiches.
Ho and Littrell are currently renovating the space and said they may open as early as this month.