Are you a bubble-tea fanatic? Then you don’t want to miss out on The Alley! Located in Ala Moana shopping center, The Alley first opened in Taiwan in 2013 and has rapidly expanded across the world since then. With branches in Korea, France, Australia, and many more, they have finally opened a branch here in Hawaii. Ever since their grand opening on December 19, 2020, “business has not slowed down,” shop supervisor Sue Yi said.
At first glance, The Alley has a contemporary and rustic feel. To handle the long lines, they have an area outside to stand in a socially distancing manner. But you don’t need to wait to order, as you can order in line on their online website, making it a quick and easy transaction. Upon going inside, you’re met with a comforting aroma of brown-sugar tapioca being made. They have a small seating area that is currently closed due to the pandemic but still provides an aesthetically pleasing amount of decor around the restaurant. “The Alley’s inspiration was Harry Potter, as [founder] Mao Ting Chu was a big fan,” Yi said. The deer adorning their famous “It’s time for tea” sign is actually a reference to Harry Potter’s Patronus.
If you choose to order in person, you will be met by a number of COVID-19 safety precautions. You will need to give your order by speaking into a microphone set in a glass between you and the employee. They only take credit cards for payment to limit exposure between customers and employees. They also do deep cleaning every 2 hours. After ordering, you’re given a number and are asked to wait outside where they have a live broadcast of what number they’re serving next. This speaker is loud enough for people outside the shop to hear, and if you order online, you will even receive a text message when your drink is ready.
The chain’s cachet is their Deerioca tapioca pearls, which are made from scratch and cooked in brown sugar syrup. The Alley says this “creates better texture and aroma for the tapioca.” They’re most famous for their no-tea Brown Sugar Deerioca Series, including drinks like Brown Sugar Deerioca Milk, Cocoa Brown Sugar Deerioca Milk, and Matcha Brown Sugar Deerioca Milk. One of their popular items is the Brown Sugar Deerioca Crème Brûlée Milk, which has a creamy texture, as the flan-like crème brûlée mixes with the brown sugar tapioca. You can also choose to switch the milk with fresh soy or oat milk. If you prefer classic bubble tea, The Alley has the Royal No. 9 Milk Tea, Jasmine Green Milk Tea, and the Alley Assam Milk Tea, all of which are also customer favorites. Like any other bubble tea shop, you can change the level of sugar and ice to your desired amount. They offer two cup sizes with “regular” priced at $5.65 and “large” at $6.65. Additionally, you can pick from a range of other toppings to add such as aloe vera, coconut jelly, and konjac jelly for 50¢ extra.
The Alley has had overwhelming popularity since opening but has managed to keep their facility very professional with secure safety measures as well as putting a unique spin on regular boba. The Alley is my personal “chosen one” for boba tea, and should be yours too!