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Boba Bae brings bubble tea up a notch

The Oneida Street specialty drink bar blends modern and traditional Vietnamese eats

By Josh Koerner

Boba Bae was recently named Startup Business of the Year from the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce. Josh Koerner photo

From the sweet, slushy body to the hidden treasures at the bottom, there are few drinks more fun to drink than bubble tea.

Bubble tea, otherwise known as boba tea or pearl tea, gained popularity in 1980s Taiwan and has since spread throughout the world. The drink features pearls, or bobas, of tapico or other sweet fillings at the bottom of the cup which are consumed with a large straw.

The drink may be familiar to the rest of the world, but here in Green Bay, the iconic beverage has gained its footing in recent years.
Local Asian restaurants and markets feature boba tea as a menu option, but in the past two years, more cafe-style boba bars have popped up.

Boba Bae (2321 S Oneida St), has made waves in the boba community. The bubble tea bar recently won Startup Business of the Year from the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce.

The Avocado Queen, a signature tea blend made at Boba Bae.

Josh Koerner photo

Nestled in one of many Oneida Street’s strip malls, Boba Bae features a mind-boggling amount of drink options, a limited menu of traditional Vietnamese snacks and boxes of fancy macaroons. The restaurant opened in 2021 in the former Q Tea Premium Tea House location after Q Tea moved to Military Avenue.

Boba Bae offers around 30 different flavors of tea. Combine that with over a dozen flavors of boba and three blending consistencies, it can be overwhelming to make a concise decision. The bubble tea bar offers signature blends to help the undecided.

Avocado Queen, a signature tea blend, offers a delightful contradiction from start to finish. It finds a unique balance between its sweet but savory flavor and smooth texture interrupted by coconut flakes and tapioca beads. Apart from the modern beverage sensation, Boba Bae offers traditional Vietnamese food such as banh mis.

The banh mi sandwich traces its roots back to the end of the French colonial oppression of Vietnam. Under French rule, imported European foods were reserved for the wealthy while the poor relied on rice and fish. French rule outlawed adulteration of its cuisine. When Vietnam claimed independence from France, chefs immediately took to making cheap, readily available sandwiches from miniature baguettes. The result was the banh mi that we have come to know today.

The Boa Bae Banh Mi is a true and authentic taste of a storied Vietnamese sandwich. Josh Koerner photo

Boba Bae’s banh mi is a strong offering of this historic sandwich and one of the most authentic ones I’ve found in Green Bay. With a delicate balance of spicy, savory, sweet, and, fresh flavors, it captures all of the elegance of the original creation and sandwiches it in a crisp, crusty bun. Despite my love for the Boba Bae Banh Mi, their weekend exclusive pork belly banh mi stands as my preferred iteration. It’s hard to beat freshly roasted pork belly.

While Boba Bae’s food menu is fairly limited, it does offer another Vietnamese classic: fresh rolls. A traditional Vietnamese fresh roll features a small salad accented by mint leaves and cilantro. The salad is paired alongside a couple of shrimp, rolled into a rice paper wrap and served with a side of spicy fish sauce. Boba Bae’s rendition swaps out the fish sauce for a Thai-style peanut sauce that pairs wonderfully with inside contents. The rolls also feature a few varieties of meat and are a strong, visual component of Boba Bae’s food offerings.

With a menu full of unique drinks and striking sandwiches, Boba Bae has taken its first year in business by storm, one tapioca pearl at a time.

Josh Koerner grew up in De Pere and has a passion for local food. He’s written for The NEWcomer and Nosh Green Bay alongside his personal Facebook food blog, Josh Eats Green Bay.

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