“Are there boba shops in Japan?”
“Is boba even popular there?”
Those were the questions I was asking myself even before landing at Narita International Airport. I’ll be in a foreign country for the next week and a half, and I don’t want to be boba-less until I get back to the States!
After the first few days of not coming across any boba places, I asked a good friend that had been living in Japan for the past few years about the boba scene. Apparently, boba isn’t too popular in Japan (yet) so there aren’t too many boba shops, but there are a few places I could go to get my fix.
The place he recommended was a familiar boba chain called Gong Cha in the Harajuku/Omotesando area of Tokyo, Japan. Finding it may be a little difficult as it’s located in one of the backstreets, but hey, it’s worth it.
The inside of this Gong Cha has a nice and cozy atmosphere. It’s not super spacious, but it’s what you’d expect from a boba shop. There are a few tables and bar seats that make this place a good study or hangout spot.
In terms of the décor, they have a number of landscape paintings along the walls. They also use an entire wall to display different types of tea, similar to what coffee shops do with coffee beans. It’s not the most decked out place, but I like how they don’t overdo it.
The thing about Japan is that most people, if not everyone, are super friendly and polite. This also applies to the staff of Gong Cha.
The employees here were extremely helpful. I was a bit intimidated about ordering because I don’t know any Japanese. Thankfully, most of the staff there knew basic English so I was able to get by with simple English phrases and pointing to the menu. They even offered to place the straw in my drink for me. Not that I needed them to, but it was awesome for them to even offer it.
I was lowkey thinking the boba was going to be mediocre, but it was actually pretty decent for a place that is apparently not big on boba. The tapioca had the right amount of sweetness to it. The only downside was that it was a tad overcooked because the boba was a bit on the mushy side.
The milk tea was pretty standard by Gong Cha standards. It had a balanced milk and tea taste so that’s a good basis. Other than that, there’s nothing special about Gong Cha milk tea.
Boba Drink: 7.5/10
For a country that isn’t too hyped for boba, the boba chains still make decent drinks. Not much of a surprise, right? Hopefully, Japan gets more boba fanatics like me and just create an explosion of boba shops. For now, it’s cool to know that there are places to grab a drink if I ever come back again.
Final Score: 8/10