Category Archives: Food Review

Photo by Wentao Zhang (ChE '19)

Oli’s Sweet Mess: Boba Guys

Photo by Wentao Zhang (ChE ’19)

By Olivia Heuiyoung Park (ME ‘19)

Chewy, round black balls with hot or cold drinks. Thick Straws. Boba was first invented in the 80s in a restaurant called “chun- shuiˇ tangˊ” in Taiwan. Coming from the west coast, the word “boba” is more familiar and correct to me than “bubble” tea or even “pearl” milk tea. My Taiwanese friends tell me, however, that all three names are perfectly acceptable. “Pearl” milk tea is the literal meaning of “bubble” tea, “bubble” tea has pretty old usage, and “boba” is a slang that translates to “big boobs” because the drink was advertised by an actress in Hong Kong with large breasts.

Most of the shops here in NYC called these drinks with the drink name + “tapioca” which I wasn’t really used to ordering because I always ordered “boba.” That’s when I heard about “Boba Guys,” a San Francisco based local shop founded by two friends, coming to East Village. I knew there was one in Clinton Street, but it was too far and I never really had the chance to go after visiting their second pop-up at Tea People at the Lower Manhattan HQ (LMHQ) back in October 2015. I instantly fell in love with Boba Guys then despite their limited menu of 3 drinks, as their tapioca was chewy and their drinks were just perfect. Every time I went and ordered a drink with tapioca in one of the abundant shops near Cooper, I craved and missed Boba Guys’ perfect drink.

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Oli’s Sweet Mess: Van Leeuwen

Olivia Heuiyoung Park (ME ‘19)

Hey there! This is Olivia, and I’d like to welcome you to Oli’s Sweet Mess! Each issue, I’ll be documenting my adventures in the city by featuring one or two dessert shops. If you have any suggestions, feel free to reach out to me!

For my first “Oli’s Sweet Mess”, I thought it would be most fitting to feature none other than “Van Leeuwen,” my favorite artisan ice cream parlor of all time! As a lactose intolerant ice cream lover, Van Leeuwen is the perfect place for me. They have both amazing classic and vegan ice cream flavors, with phenomenal seasonal flavors such as: rose jam cardamom cake, labneh (yogurt-cheese) with pistachio & candied orange, and banana cream pie. A scoop costs $5.50 (or $6 for vegan flavors), but it’s totally worth the price!

The ice cream is super rich and flavorful, and you can even try as many flavors as you want before deciding on a flavor! It’s very close to Cooper actually—located on 2nd Avenue and 7th Street. It is a perfect spot for hanging out with friends, treating yourself, or even studying! They have limited seating, but the store itself has the perfect atmosphere to grab a warm drink and to study (yes they have free Wi-Fi). Also, the workers are all very friendly and fun.

Van Leeuwen was created by three friends in a small kitchen in Brooklyn in 2007 and now has several locations and trucks in New York and California. The store offers amazing ice cream with optional toppings, house made sundaes, Toby’s Estate coffee and espresso, Rishi Organic teas, house made pastries with plenty of vegan options, and more! The only downfall is that the East Village location doesn’t have a bathroom, but hey, everything else about this place makes up for it. You can even buy hand packed pints at the store, or for a cheaper price at a grocery store nearby!

Next time when you’re craving something sweet, cold, or even just a quick cup of joe, give Van Leeuwen a try! I promise you’ll fall in love with the store as quickly and deeply as I did! ◊