The Boba Files: Soyful Desserts (San Jose, CA)

8:00:00 AM

File #016: Ring Around the Rosie...

Who would’ve known a year or two ago that the newly built Vietnam Town would turn into a Ring of Fire (for boba)? As I mentioned previously in the first few entries of The Boba Files, the Bay Area (specifically San Jose) has turned into a mecca for boba lovers. And sprinkled throughout the various areas of specific cities are a “ring of fire,” a cluster of milk tea shops that sit dangerously close to each other.

Nothing spells out good business like a little competition.

And talk about competition at this center. We have Sweet Corner, Tapioca Express, Tea Lyfe, Sweet Gelato Tea Lounge and Soyful Desserts. And this is only in Vietnam Town. We haven’t even started counting the ones within a mile radius of the area that sells milk tea.

So how does Soyful Desserts stand out from its competitor? Why choose to visit here than everywhere else?

Well, one thing that separates Soyful Desserts from the rest is its teeny-tiny shop space. And I mean tiny. It’s more of a walk-in than a sit-down. It use to be that you can walk inside the shop, but now you can’t even do that. It’s literally, you walk up to the counter and order. And there are a few seats outside if you choose to hang around.

Soyful Desserts sits on the right side of Vietnam Town, straddling the line between the left side of Grand Century, making it difficult to find if you’re unfamiliar with the area. There’s plenty of parking in the area and they also seemingly share the space with a Vietnamese restaurant in the same area.

So I know those aren’t convincing reasons to visit. But if you’re a sucker for packaging and marketing… then that could be a reason. Soyful Desserts don’t print their logo over their cups (which is smart from a financial sense), but they do print stickers and they put that on the side connecting the lid to the cup.

Creamy Milk Tea with boba
It’s cute. It’s different. I’m convinced.

As you guys may have already guessed, it doesn’t take much to impress me when it comes to milk tea packaging.

For all of you who are still unconvinced by any marketing and packaging ploys, I guess the most important question should be: how does it taste, Amy?

what they were advertising the last time I went.
Pretty darn good. Their menu is limited and they specialize in Hong Kong-styled milk teas with what I want to say a Vietnamese flair? (We are in Little Saigon after all.) I mention that because they use pandan jelly and basil seeds, which are more synonymous with what you might find in Vietnamese desserts. They’re well known for their strong Hong Kong styled milk tea and their creamy milk teas with Japanese pudding.

Hong Kong styled milk tea with pudding & milk foam with pudding
Their Hong Kong styled milk tea is strong and robust in flavor. If you need that mid-afternoon caffeine kick, this would be what I recommend. It’s not a drink that you would want to down quickly. No, I would take this in sips slowly. It’s equally sweet and bitter at the same time and reminds me of the Vietnamese coffee my dad likes to drink-- but in a tea.

I also tried their creamy milk tea with boba and it’s smooth and milky, just as the name suggests, but a bit weak. I prefer something a little stronger, while the creamy milk tea is reminiscent of a smoothie almost, but without the icy consistency.

Menu with the prices. 
Their prices are reasonable and there are some interesting combinations that might appeal to people who are more adventurous with their tastes. As their name suggests, they offer drinks that are made with soymilk rather than regular milk and you can substitute any drinks with soymilk. Sweetness levels can be adjusted and they have a stamp card system for all those who frequent.

Are you charmed by the walk-through boba shop? Or do you prefer the other shops around the area? I visited Tea Lyfe a few times recently, so look for that review coming up soon.

Soyful Desserts
999 Story Road
Ste 9048-B
San Jose, CA 95122

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