By DANIEL ROCKEY | JUNE 3, 2019
Fat Straws is like many other boba tea shops: It’s colorful and bright and fun. Yet the boba world is strangely cutthroat. With so many bubble tea shops saturating the Dallas market, staying afloat requires more than just high-quality tapioca pearls and a good logo. Establishing rapport, keeping up with the community and continuing to create new, delicious products that are sure to land boatloads of likes on Instagram are just a few of the hurdles a modern boba shop has to jump over.
Fat Straws has not only survived in this harsh, chewy environment, but they’ve thrived. With their latest shop that opened in Richardson on Saturday, they’re now turning to dish innovation.
Jennifer and Terry Pham are the power couple behind Fat Straws, a string of boba tea shops that serves up a wide selection of colorful drinks, blends and infusions at locations around DFW. While making delicious drinks has gotten them this far, they’ve had their eye on something more — something equally as fun as their teas and blends. For the most part, they’ve fallen short.
“We wanted a high-quality product — not just any pastry or whatnot,” Terry says. “I got connected through someone at an EO (entrepreneurs organization) last year. I was having lunch and someone said, ‘You’ve gotta meet this guy, he makes mochi doughnuts in Hawaii.’”
By now, most of us have had mochi, the sweet rice cake dessert from Japan that is usually filled with custard or ice cream. Even more of us have enjoyed doughnuts before. But combining the two yields a completely different product. It was this discovery that led Jennifer and Terry down the mochi doughnut hole.
“When I experience something I really enjoy, I just have a compulsion to share it with other people. I sometimes get annoying about it,” Terry laughs. “I did my first mochi doughnut tests here with a little KitchenAid mixer and a campfire stove.”
With a little over a year of testing, sampling, procuring and perfecting, Terry and Jennifer were ready to unveil their version of the mochi doughnut at their newest location in Richardson, selling something you can’t find elsewhere in Texas.
Through all this testing and research, what does a mochi doughnut even taste like? It’s a little bit of both worlds. The dough for Fat Straws’ mochi doughnuts is made with high-gluten mochi flour. They’re shaped, fried and glazed just like any other doughnut, but in a unique bubbly ring shape.
“It has that crave-able kind of addictive texture to it,” Terry says. “Boba is about texture. Mochi doughnuts are about texture.”
The doughnuts themselves are crispy on the outside and wildly chewy on the inside, all the while not being too overly sweet. Fat Straws makes all of their glazes in-house, with flavors like strawberry, chocolate, passion fruit and even black sesame.
The Richardson location isn’t by any means some grandiose, over-the-top iteration of Fat Straws. It is a simple storefront that has the same vibe as their other stores. The key difference is what Richardson means to both Terry and Jennifer.
“When we were choosing the location, we wanted it in our neighborhood. We live here. We wanted to plant our roots here and call it home,” Jennifer says. The two have always had a soft spot for Richardson, and they want to share their vision with the city where they live.
“We clarified our core values, and we use them in every decision we make,” Terry says. Their shops obviously employ those around them in the community, but Terry seems almost overwhelmed with the idea of hiring within his own neighborhood.
“To me, I think it’s a huge privilege and honor to be someone’s first job,” he says. “There’s a lot of bubble tea places, but that’s something that makes Fat Straws Fat Straws. It’s about that relationship. It’s about community.”
Fat Straws, 1251 W. Campbell Road, Richardson