Yesterday was the grand re-opening of Tapio Boba Cafe. After temporarily closing their doors at the end of December, they moved to a new, bigger space and expanded their menu to begin serving food as well as their signature boba tea drinks. I can’t tell you how eagerly I was awaiting their re-opening. Three months is a long time for an Asian girl from Orange County to go without satisfying her boba fix.
That was one of the things I missed the most when I first moved to Charleston over three years ago: good, legitimate boba milk tea. There were a couple Chinese restaurants that served what they passed as “boba milk tea,” but their tapioca balls were hard and tasteless, and their milk teas powdered and fake-tasting. I greatly mourned the loss of boba. Not only are the teas delicious and refreshing, boba cafes were a great place to hang out or catch up with friends. I have great memories of chatting with my college friends over milk tea from Sweetheart Cafe in Berkeley.
So when Tapio first opened their doors a couple years ago, I was beyond ecstatic. FINALLY, authentic boba in Charleston!!!
I would soon learn that Tapio was the brainchild of Terry and AJ Hung. After years of searching high and low for decent boba in Charleston, they decided to create their own. And thus, Tapio was born. You can tell that they have put a ton of love and hard work into their business, and you can taste the dedication in every hand-shaken or blended cup of magical boba tea.
It was evident how much the Charleston community loved and missed Tapio by the line that wrapped around the building on the day of their re-opening. Their new location is in a cute historic building on the corner of Cannon and Coming, and has a bigger space that accommodates a room with tables to dine-in, and a separate lounge area to hang out for a short while.
We ordered the Khao Man Gai (Thai chicken over rice) and the Yansu Ji (Taiwanese popcorn chicken). The popcorn chicken, fried with basil leaves, was reminiscent of Quickly’s, minus the spicy chili powder. You have a choice of dark or white meat for the Khao Man Gai, which comes in slices over a bed of subtle garlic jasmine rice, and topped with cilantro. It comes with a side of sliced cucumber and a light broth, as well as your choice of either Thai spicy sauce or ginger and scallion sauce. You guys. YOU GUYS. That Thai spicy sauce was the tastiest. We poured the entire sauce cup over our tray, and even dipped the popcorn chicken into it. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I highly recommend it!
They currently offer four food options and a variety of tea flavors, from milky to blended to fruity. Tapio is the place to go for a simple but tasty, no-frills Thai and Taiwanese experience. We will definitely be going back to try the pork belly over rice, and of course, my favorite classic boba milk tea, half sweet!