I read a post on Hoodline about the recent opening of Puppy Bobar, a puppy-themed boba and crepery shop, that had a soft opening in Chinatown, San Francisco. My experiences with Chinatown boba shops always end up badly (e.g. Chatown), so when I heard about another boba shop opening, I was skeptical. Needless to say, I gave them a shot or I wouldn’t be writing this review, right?
If you aren’t told exactly where Puppy Bobar is located, expect to look around for a while. I made the mistake of expecting a storefront or a sidewalk sign but wasn’t able to find one.
Great. Not the best experience for a potential customer.
I conceded to looking for more information on Yelp and found out that they share store space with other vendors. After peeking into a few shops, I finally found what I was searching for: boba cups and a smiling puppy logo.
It felt awkward walking into this place because their order window is in the center of the store. I felt the eyes of the other vendors on me as they wonder if I was going to be one of their customers.
Whatever. I came all this way and searched all this time. Awkwardness isn’t going to stop me from getting this boba!
I looked around for a menu sign or brochures but only found a lonely menu laminated onto the front of the cash register. I guess I’m expected to decide my order in front of the cashier. Another moment of awkwardness.
This is a grab-and-go style shop so don’t expect any seating. That seems weird to me because they also serve crepe, but I guess you can’t expect much in a shared space. It is a bit inconvenient though.
Ambiance Score: 6/10
The cashier (who is most likely the store owner) was friendly. She explained that Puppy Bobar also serves crepes and is currently offering a boba and crepe combo deal. I’m only here for the boba so I kindly declined.
This is when she tried to upsell me the large size cup when I clearly stated that I wanted a small size. That didn’t sit well with me, but I guess they have to do what they have to do to maximize profit.
She made small talk with me as I waited for my drink to find out how I heard about them. I let her know about discovering Puppy Bobar through Hoodline and that I’m a boba blogger myself, which she then asked me about my favorite boba places.
Service Score: 8/10
Now for the most important part: the boba drink.
Puppy Bobar boasts about their use of organic tea leaves. Personally, I don’t care much for how the leaves are grown or if any pesticides were used in the process. As long as the taste is good, everything else is just a bonus.
The milk tea had a well-balanced taste of milk and tea with a light consistency similar to Purple Kow milk tea. The taste itself isn’t on Purple Kow’s level though. Where the drink failed was in the boba-to-milk tea ratio.
As you can see from the picture above, the wide cup filled up to ~80% capacity. I usually don’t mind the missing ~20% since I always ask for less ice. I’m not sure if they didn’t hear me or if my order actually had less ice by their standards, but half of my drink was ice. And it still only ended up being ~80% filled.
I was consciously trying to pick up as much boba while drinking the milk tea, but the boba was stuck together so it was hard to get them individually through the straw. The boba was probably from an old batch that sat in the container for too long and ended up fusing together.
I basically paid ~$5 for a bunch of ice and old boba. The little bit of milk tea I had was just a bonus, I guess.
Boba Drink: 6/10
All in all, the service was decent and the store itself is passable, but the drink I received was terrible. They packed the drink with ice even though I put in a request for less. This resulted in a skewed boba-to-milk tea ratio, which completely ruined the drink. If Puppy Bobar really wants to succeed in Chinatown, they need to improve their drink quality.
Final Score: 6.6/10