Seattle's sweet tooth is getting a blast of Asian flavors.
By Tiffany Ran
November 8, 2017
It’s been a little over a year since Hood Famous Bakeshop opened its brick and mortar storefront in Ballard to offer signature ube cheesecakes and desserts with an Asian touch. Its success has opened the door in Seattle for other Asian flavors like matcha, red bean, black sesame to breathe new life into commonplace desserts. Your ice cream might be black sesame, your pudding might be purple taro, your donut might be red bean, but none will be plain vanilla.
For this series of Chef Interviews, we got the scoops from three of the hottest – and chillest – dessert connoisseurs in Seattle. Each interview is stuffed with savory insights and sweet experiences. We will serve them up one bite at a time so check back for more!
Second bite: VIVIENNE PAI, owner of Moo Bar Seattle
Vivienne Pai recently grew her California-based milk tea shop to include a second store in Seattle, where Pai struggled to find milk tea focused on quality and wholesome ingredients. Moo Bar, currently in its soft opening stages, brings unique variations of milk tea and the newly popular raindrop cake and egg waffles to Seattle.
How did you choose Seattle as the second location for Moo Bar?
My fiancé moved up here to work for Amazon and he wanted me to move here. That was about a year ago. I would look at the dessert options available when I’d go out. Most of the milk tea here is pretty different and I’m not sure why, I didn’t like most of the options I had here. Since I’ll be back and forth between Seattle and California, I wanted to start a business here.
I had an online cosmetic store before but my passion for desserts has always been great. When I saw that the boba and milk tea industry was growing, I knew it was going to become big. We decided to go back to Taiwan and start our research. It took us about 2-3 years.
Milk tea is more popular now, how did you decide to do this differently?
Our store uses premium organic tea leaves. Small batches are brewed every hour based on demand so the tea doesn’t sit all day. At the end of the day, we throw our tea away. Same thing with our boba. We use honey boba and mostly we’ve been making it every hour.
We handcraft our own organic brown sugar for drinks instead of using fructose. There are a couple other options for toppings including house made taro pudding, egg pudding, and grass jelly. We don’t offer any other jelly because those aren’t what we make in house and we want more healthy options.
What would you recommend for someone looking for a unique milk tea experience?
Our Thai milk tea which doesn’t use half and half. We noticed a lot of our customers here are lactose intolerant, so we use our house made coconut whip cream on top of the Thai tea and we sprinkle Hawaiian black lava salt on top. We add a cinnamon stick for customers to use to stir the coconut cream into the tea and provides a kick in flavor.
Another is salted cheese milk foam. It’s pretty big in Asia and we have it in California. I noticed I haven’t seen it here. The response has been good after customers try it. We offer a black coffee topped with salted cheese. It tastes buttery and creamy. That’s the taste you get.
You’re one of the few places in the city offering rain drop cake. How do you explain this to customers or staff who haven’t encountered it before?
Raindrop cake is very delicate. It’s made of mineral water. A way to think about it is, instead of drinking the water, you eat the water! On top of that, we have roasted soy bean powder and then we have a brown sugar or the matcha syrups which we make in house. We also serve it with a puree of strawberry or mangos if it’s in season.
Want more? Don’t miss the First Bite.