First Taste

First Taste: Milk Run Opens Bubble Tea Spot Next to Pho Thanh in Phoenix

First Taste: Milk Run Opens Bubble Tea Spot Next to Pho Thanh in Phoenix
Felicia Campbell
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out — and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: Milk Run
Location: 1702 West Camelback Road (next to Pho Thanh)
Open: About two weeks (grand opening was on June 14)
Eats: Bubble tea, milk tea, ice cream, and "sparklers"
Price: $3.49-$3.99 per drink ($1.50 upcharge for reusable glass bottle). Ice cream is $2.99 per scoop.

Last week, we were tipped off that a "groovy" new milk tea spot had opened right next to Pho Thanh, the 2011 winner of our Best of Phoenix Vietnamese restaurant category. The Yelpers had already descended, raving about their newly gained ability to have a bowl of pho followed by a legit bubble tea. One reader told me the Nutella milk tea was bomb AF. Naturally, I had to go check it out.

The shop is a bright, modern ray of light in the otherwise dingy strip mall. Inside, the cheerful space was full of happy young couples. There were so many people, in fact, that it made me wondered how everyone had time for bubble tea breaks in the middle of the day in the middle of the work week.

The sunny shop, which is open from 11a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday through Monday, offers fresh doughnuts and house-made ice cream in flavors like Lucky Charms (yes, studded with the cereal) or bright, purple taro. But the real draw here are the chilled East Asian beverages, including iced milk teas, milk tea floats topped with a scoop of ice cream, sparklers, ice teas, slushies, smoothies, and hot Vietnamese coffee in black, regular (with condensed milk), and sea salt.

click to enlarge FELICIA CAMPBELL
Felicia Campbell

Any bev can have boba added, and any drink can be ordered in a glass bottle for $1.50 more (I immediately regretted not doing this as I watched others sip their cool-looking drinks from even cooler-looking glass milk bottles). The reusable bottles also earn you a discount on future visits.

I made my way to the front of the line and ordered the Nutella milk tea with boba, and a pineapple mimosa sparkler without. I didn't know what the sparkler was, but it sounded pretty and fun, so I just went for it. FTW.

Nutella Milk tea was not as heavy or sweet as I thought it would be, but the boba made it more of a meal replacement than a drink. I sat sipping, wishing I had ordered boba in the light, fruity-looking sparkler instead. The milk tea reminded me of the hot beverage I'd had all over Hong Kong, a creamy mixture of milk, coffee, and tea. It was less bitter, with far less in the way of tannins than those versions had been. It was oddly refreshing, which is a strange thing to say about a milky, hazelnut-chocolate drink. Before I knew it, I'd drained the thing.

The pineapple mimosa sparkler contained no champagne (no surprise), but turned out to be a tart mix of fresh-squeezed pineapple and orange juice with some effervescent soda water and fresh mint. It tasted like there was no additional sugar added, making for a mouth-puckering, very bright drink. This is a happy place full of cheerful drinks.

Fans of Pho Thanh next door will be happy to know that the two spaces are actually connected by an interior door, making a post-pho bubble tea or Vietnamese coffee, topped with a scoop of homemade ice cream, an easy addition to their dining experience.

For more details, check out their Facebook page.

click to enlarge FELICIA CAMPBELL
Felicia Campbell

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Felicia Campbell has written about food, culture, and cars for digital and print publications all over the world and is the author of The Food of Oman: Recipes and Stories from the Gateway to Arabia (Andrews McMeel, 2015). Her husband learned quickly that she’d rather get a bag of avocados than a bouquet of roses.