Coffee

Mango Rabbit Boba Serves Thirst-Quenching Pieces of Art in Tempe

The Piranha Plant drink (forefront) is a three-layered strawberry matcha drink topped with a cookie.
The Piranha Plant drink (forefront) is a three-layered strawberry matcha drink topped with a cookie. Mike Madriaga
Have you ever heard of a Demon Slayer-themed drink topped with popping boba and Pocky sticks? Probably not.

At Mango Rabbit Boba in Tempe, this creation is available along with more than 100 milk tea, topping, and boba combinations.

Boba is made of tapioca, a starch from the cassava root. The translucent-black pearls are chewy in texture and generally served with milk tea, in which the boba balls sink to the bottom of the glass.

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In 2018, Peggy Huang and her husband opened Mango Rabbit Boba at East Apache Boulevard.
Mike Madriaga
In 2018, Peggy Huang and her husband opened Mango Rabbit Boba at East Apache Boulevard, less than a mile from the Arizona State University campus in Tempe.

On a recent visit, Huang made a few drinks for us to try.

"Taiwan is very well known for street food and boba. And that inspired me — as boba came from Taiwan. So it was my dream to open a boba store," she says.

When Huang lived in Taiwan in the late '80s, she was inspired by My Neighbor Totoro, a 1988 Japanese anime movie.

"Our kids also inspired me," she adds. "At night time, this place is full. They love boba and anime."

In mid-July, Huang held a showing event of Totoro, one of the many events she hosts at the shop.

 "We collaborate with local bakers and invite local vendors and artists to show and sell their artwork," she says.

The vendors often sell anime-related toys, clothing, stickers, artwork, memorabilia, and baked goods.

Huang's love for Totoro is also found on the menu. Huang and her boba baristas make a tasty purple-colored taro slushie topped with a chinchilla cookie standing atop mini-chocolate chips emulating soil and a mint leaf. The drinkable diorama also includes boba.

"We make that with the original taro, not powdered taro like the other places," Huang says. "We don't use syrup, we use natural ingredients to create these colors."

Another colorful creation served at Mango Rabbit is bright green matcha tea.

The Piranha Plant is a three-layered strawberry matcha drink topped with a piranha plant cookie. It's a drinkable piece of art, inspired by the Super Mario Bros.

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A barista adds the final touches to a boba drink.
Mike Madriaga
The drink starts with a pink bottom layer of blended strawberry shake. Next is a bright green layer of milky matcha and finally, the top layer is a tan-colored cheese foam made from whipped cream cheese, whipping cream, milk, salt, and sugar.

Rianna Rodriguez, a teacher from Awautukee, and her daughter Ela recently enjoyed some treats at Mango Rabbit.

"It's our first time here," Rodriguez says. "She (Ela) just did her early evaluation for early entrance into kindergarten."

To celebrate, Ela ordered a custom-made bubble waffle filled with strawberry ice cream, topped with Fruity Pebbles and strawberries, and decorated with a mermaid cookie.

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Ela ordered a bubble waffle filled with strawberry ice cream, topped with Fruity Pebbles and strawberries, and decorated with a mermaid cookie.
Mike Madriaga
Across the room, a family enjoyed the Super Mario Waffle: a red velvet flavored waffle filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with whipped cream, fresh strawberries, and Fruity Pebbles, and accented with Pocky sticks and crumbled cookies.

Another parent ordered a waffle cone in homage to the Totoro movie that inspired Huang. It's a red velvet bubble waffle packed with vanilla ice cream, strawberries, drizzles of caramel, Fruity Pebbles, strawberry-flavored Pocky sticks, and whipped cream. The My Neighbor Totoro-inspired masterpiece is finally topped with a cookie, custom made by Phoenix bakery Cookie Brokers, resembling Mei Kusakabe, the little girl character in the anime film.

"I want to encourage the family and friends to communicate more with the kids," Huang says. "I tell them to put down their phones and talk with one another."

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A purple-colored taro slushie drink topped with a chinchilla cookie resembling Totoro.
Courtesy of Mango Rabbit Boba
Keeping the phone down in Huang's 1600-square-foot boba-drink factory is difficult as there are a ton of photo opportunities. The spot is decorated with a larger-than-life teddy bear in the corner, anime-themed pillows, and posters of famous anime characters.

Rodriguez found the boba and waffle shop via Facebook; other customers on Instagram and TikTok.

Other drink options include the chocolate Oreo milkshake, strawberry milk tea, dalgona coffee, and a taro drink with boba. Each drink comes topped with a custom cookie.

The shop offers other milk teas, including flavors like Earl Grey, sea salt and caramel, tiramisu, and strawberry. Besides boba balls, there are more than 13 other toppings. Traditional smoothies, coffee drinks, slushies, and hot snacks are also made to order.

"It's a clever bubble waffle and inventive boba shop," Huang says. "Get used to different."

Mango Rabbit Boba

1250 East Apache Blvd., Suite. 112, Tempe
480-912-6283
mangorabbitboba.com

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