Bubbling up

I was having lunch at Noodle Zone today and was delighted to see that the latest addition to the Westlake food court is a place called [Bobachine](http://www.bobachine.com/). Delighted, because Bobachine specializes in bubble tea and banh mi sandwiches.

It always buoys my spirits to see a weird trend like bubble tea go mainstream. It’s a reminder that globalization goes both ways: sure, people all over the world eat at McDonald’s, but when some kids in Taiwan go wild for tea with squishy tapioca balls, it can end up in the food court in a matter of a few years.

The other thing about Bobachine that made me smile was the name. Around the time we first moved to Seattle there was a restaurant called ObaChine, an outpost of a Wolfgang Puck chain. If anyone remembers it today, it’s for the painting that hung in the lobby, a portrait of a Chinese man that ignited a small controversy when some people said it was a racist caricature. I can only assume that the Bobachine is an homage to ObaChine, which closed years ago. (“Boba” refers to the bubbles in the tea. According to Wikipedia, “The literal meaning is a slang for ‘big breast / nipple’ as the tapioca balls resemble a mothers nipple.”)

I didn’t try Bobachine today, but I’ll make it a point to do so soon.

3 thoughts on “Bubbling up

  1. Zrblm

    Back when I was a graduate student, I went to Seattle for a conference, and ended up being dragged to Obachine by a bunch of people with much bigger per diems than mine. I don’t remember the painting, but I do remember being unimpressed with the food and severely annoyed with the prices (particularly after people took it on themselves to order a couple of bottles of wine “for the table”). So, good bloodly riddance.

  2. sheila


    thanks for the post. I’m the founder of Bobachine. Westlake is our 2nd unit with # 1 at Southcenter Mall in the Food court. Regarding the name. I did think of Obachine when I was pondering a catchy name. The main goal was to create a one word name that would be easy to remember, or catchy enough to remember.

    Our mission statement is to bring bubble tea to the mainstream, have fun doing so, and help people.

    Please stop by sometime.

    Thanks for the props!

    Sheila Locke
    Chief Bobachinist

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