Jon and Carmen Pei spent years traveling the globe, visiting caf?s from New York to Taiwan in search of the perfect rendition of their treasured childhood treat: bubble tea. After organizing all their recipes, tips, and ideas, the couple opened their own shop, where they whip up their own blend of innovative bubble teas, smoothies, and frozen hot chocolate.
Upon entering their colorful, brightly lit shop, guests are often greeted by Jon and Carmen themselves, who dole out free samples to first-timers, greet return customers by name, and tussle the toupees of visiting congressmen. The duo and their staff of baristas fold premium tea leaves and freshly cooked tapioca boba balls imported from Taiwan into fruity drinks. They also chop up fresh fruit for smoothies every day at the shop. Customers are invited to order from a menu of specialty drinks or choose from a variety of flavors, fruits, and mix-ins to design their own concoction. They can even add from a selection of more than 25 kinds of popping boba balls, which burst in the mouth with every sip. And during chilly winter months, the baristas pour hot bubble tea.
Guests sip on beverages and nibble on snacks?such as crunchy Pocky sticks?out among the tabletops of the lively seating area. Some play video games on wide-screen computers and televisions, whereas others engage in more traditional games such Connect Four or competitions to fit the most straws up their nostrils.
At Broadway Bistro Café, culinary wizard Joseph Cuellar guides budding chefs through the preparation of a four-course meal before they feast on the fruits of their efforts in the exposed-brick and wood confines of the restaurant's dining room. Apprentices gather in the kitchen for an interactive lesson in crafting one of three different menus that caters to a variety of taste preferences and allergy restrictions. In the course of 2.5 hours, pupils whip up a salad, appetizer, entree, and dessert, all of which will grace their taste buds and provide the energy required to slide down the banister of the dining room’s winding, imperial staircase. A non-alcoholic beverage escorts the self-prepared spread, and guests are invited to bring their own libations to toast epicurean success. Off-site lessons can also be arranged, letting students chop, sautée and stir in the comfort of their own galleys. Progenitors are welcome to bond with their offspring by taking class together, but children 12 and younger must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Even as a child, Monte Lue dreamed of moving to Texas and starting his own business. With some help from his wife, Patricia, and a little ingenuity when it came to the name, Monte did just that with Lue'isiana Po Boys. But Monte didn't just open the doors, kick back, and let a staff of chefs or sophisticated Rube Goldberg machines do all the work. He prepares every dish on the menu himself, including 10 different po boy sandwiches packed with jumbo shrimp, catfish, and oysters. Kicking up the authenticity by several degrees, Monte uses authentic po boy-grade french bread shipped in from the famed Gambino's Bakery. Though the po boys are the reigning royal family of the menu, Monte and Patricia make enough room for Creole and Cajun delight, such as the crawfish etouffee–savory crawfish cooked with fresh basil peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and Cajun seasoning.
At HelloYo Frozen Yogurt's colorful shop, customers become dessert artisans. A white- and pink-tiled wall of pumps displays the on-tap flavors, inviting them to swirl as much natural, creamy yogurt as they’d like. Then, patrons can scoop their own candy and fresh-fruit toppings to finish off their sundae. A staff member then weighs each creation to determine its price and its weight class, just in case it would like to enlist in the shop’s underground yogurt wrestling club.