King Boba reigns supreme

(Photo by Brett Callwood)

By Brett Callwood

While boba originated in Taiwan in the early ‘80s and was brought to the United States by Taiwanese immigrants in the ‘90s, the popularity of the tapioca balls (or pearls) in drinks has really blown up over the past decade or so. Food trends come and go, and right now you can’t seem to pass a strip mall in the Los Angeles area that doesn’t have a boba place in it.

This is no bad thing; the chewy boba enhances many drinks. The kid’s version, little bubbles of fruit, are delicious too. Boba, for the time being, is a big deal.

King Boba, in the wonderful Asian Mall on South Western Avenue, has a fantastic selection of drinks with or without boba. Smoothies, frappes and slushes, milk teas and green/black teas, all with the option of premium boba, popping or mango popping, and a variety of jellies, foams and puddings. You really can build your own perfect beverage.

We opted for the Mixed Grain Smoothie and, while it’s a flavor and indeed a texture that takes some getting used to, it’s ultimately a rewarding and delicious drink. The smoothie mix is creamy, smooth and refreshing, and the mixture of grains and oats is blended to create an oatmeal-esque flavor with a granola lean.

There is a grittiness to the texture that is initially disconcerting but again, you get used to it and it ends up being comforting in a similar fashion to a protein shake. It doesn’t have the fruity tang or the sweet decadence of a regular smoothie, but it’s no less enjoyable.

King Boba also has a few food choices, all of which are tantalizing. The Taiyaki is a fish-shaped pastry filled with red bean paste, nutella and cheese. Meanwhile, the Tteokbokki is a tasty combo that includes rice cake, dumpling, fish cake and mozzarella cheese. 

They also sell a corn dog, which is half cheese and half meat, and they serve popcorn chicken and fried dumplings. So you can get way more than just drinks at King Boba – the snacks are awesome too. While there are plenty of boba joints all over the area, few are as great as King Boba. As the name suggests.

King Boba is located at 15420 S. Western Ave., Gardena 90249. Call 310-400-7380.