Q & A with Boba 7 Founder Elton Keung: Green Tea Heineken, Labobatory + Alcoholic Boba
EK: The inventor put her tapioca pudding dessert into milk tea. The company Chun Shui Tang, innovator of cold milk tea, began selling the product ever since and it has become part of Taiwanese culture.
SI: Boba 7 is inside the Thai restaurant Soi 7 correct?
EK: Yeah, in the back. It's branded as a speakeasy and is owned by David Tewasart. He's a USC alumni. He was introduced through my friend Tracy Lawrence, the founder of Chewse. Keeping your idea a secret isn't the best idea in my opinion, because no one can help you when you're in stealth mode. The fact that Tracy knew about my business and introduced me to David is primarily how I am able to start-up and have a location to work out of. My parents are also very supportive. There wasn't much pressure to get a real job.
SI: How did you get the start-up money?
EK: I basically used my $2000 credit line on my credit card to start-up. I didn't have much I needed to buy. David helped me with the initial supply purchase, of around $800.
SI: You grew up in the San Gabriel Valley so you're familiar with the competition. How do you set Boba 7 apart?
EK: My menu is similar to a teahouse in SGV, but I have some unique drinks like horchata boba and I have a "Labobatory" menu which is all the alcoholic drinks. I also plan on hash-tagging my whole menu eventually. I have all the usual suspects that you can find at a teahouse as well, like milk green tea and almond milk tea.
SI: How many unique drinks do you have on there?
EK: Six unique drinks, and also a seventh drink called the "Mad Scientist" which is basically a create-your-own-science-experiment soju drink. It's soju and yogurt-based, but flavored with whatever flavors you like that I have -- and anything you want inside, like lychee jelly or boba.
SI: Does boba go with any sort of alcohol?
EK: Boba doesn't really go well with most alcohol, but the one drink that I use is Irish cream and Kahlua flavored and that works really well with the honey boba.
SI: What's the difference between regular boba and honey boba?
EK: Calling it honey boba makes people want it more. But most people sweeten with honey and brown sugar these days. Simple syrup to sweeten is outdated.
SI: How has business been since the opening? Any future plans?
EK: It was doing great during the summer. Boba 7 was designed to be a summer pop-up, but I'm staying here until I can integrate it to Soi 7. My next plan is to open Labobatory in either West L.A. or SGV. It'll be a high-touch boba teahouse that is very social.
Follow Squid Ink at @LAWeeklyFood and check out our Facebook page. Clarissa blogs about Asian food at clarissawei.com. Follow her on Twitter or on Facebook.