Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: The AlleyRestaurant Insider
September 25, 2022
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
ANNE LEE speaks with The Alley regional manager SIDI “OMAR” MAWLOUD
Boba. Bubble tea.Tapioca pearl tea. Milk tea. Or “Deerioca,” as fondly named by The Alley at Ala Moana Center, which will be celebrating its anniversary in December and has grown in popularity with the local community.
I met with regional manager Sidi “Omar” Mawloud to learn more about why this boba tea drink is so popular, and what makes The Alley’s offerings uniquely different from other milk teas that you can find on the island.
AL: Can you tell me more about The Alley?
SM: The Alley originated in Taiwan and our headquarters are based in California. About three years ago, we did some market research in Hawaii, we found that there were not that many boba tea shops, and the first The Alley location was born December 2019.
AL: What separates The Alley from the other boba tea shops?
SM:We pride ourselves on quality. Our tapioca, which we call “Deerioca” in reference to our mascot deer logo, is first made by hand in Taiwan. It’s shipped here and we cook it in-store all day, every day. Each batch is only used for two hours, otherwise we dispose of it to ensure freshness. We are also committed to make our own sugar cane syrup. The boiling process creates the most original flavor with a sweetness that is delicate, but never overpowering.We hand-pick the type of tea leaves that we use, so each cup of tea has its own determined aroma and taste.
AL: How did the deer become the logo?
SM: The deer logo was inspired from the Harry Potter movies. You can see the reference to Diagon Alley next to The Alley sign.
AL: There is a new limited-time Grape Series Boba Tea line. Please tell us more about the items.
SM: To honor the harvest season, we are featuring the Grape Lulu Series, which come with either fresh red or white grapes. It’s served in three different variations and blended: peach oolong tea only, peach oolong tea and snow velvet cream (cream cheese foam), and yogurt for a heartier choice. This will be available until October.
AL: What are the most popular drinks that you serve?
SM: Our drinks come in two sizes, regular and large ($4.99-$7.99). Some specific drinks (due to the ingredients and aesthetics) will come in their own sizes, such as our blended Strawberry Mochi Smoothie, which has a layer of fresh mochi made in-house and fresh strawberries.
We have the Brown Sugar Deerioca Series. Brown Sugar Deerioca Creme Brûlée, is our most popular drink. It’s our signature brown sugar boba, creme brûlée pudding, a little bit of sweet cream and finished with your choice of milk (organic, oat or soy). You may also have it with taro instead of the pudding and finished with ube cream. Also, in this series, you can order it with matcha or cocoa brown sugar.
In our Original Brewed Teas Series, the teas are handpicked and exclusive to The Alley. You can order from seven options and customize the drink with a variety of toppings. If you are more of a milk tea-lover, we have our Milk Tea Series. Our most popular is the Royal No.9 Black Tea (our signature blueberry-flavored black tea). Our peach oolong tea is mild with earthy notes. This particular tea is versatile and we use this in our mixed drinks and specialty beverages.
We offer the Lulu Fresh Fruit Series, with fresh strawberry, mango or orange options blended with ice with our peach oolong tea — it’s more like a slushie. We use organic milk for all our milk drinks; oat and soy are available as a substitution and our milk teas are all non-dairy.
AL: What is the Par-tea Box?
SM: We offer catering options, and this one in particular is a boba tea party in a box ($35) designed for five to 10 people. You have a choice of brewed tea or milk tea. Then, add additional toppings for $7 each: brown sugar boba, regular boba, creme brûlée pudding, crystal boba, coconut jelly, rainbow jelly, green tea jelly or aloe vera. Order it in-store or ahead of time for larger orders.
We just started catering options, where we can bring The Alley to you. We set up a made-to-order (maximum two hours, which is the shelf life of our “Deerioca” tapioca pearls) menu with anything non-blended. Please call the store for more information.
AL: Anything else you want to share?
SM: We want to work with the community and partner with local businesses to offer food options. One in particular is the iconic Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery that created a Pork Char Siu Sou (Chinese roast pork pastry puff) that we cook to order. It’s $4.99 for one and $8.99 for two. And, for Valentine’s Day, we did a collaboration with MW Restaurant and made macarons.
Besides quality and fresh ingredients, great flavor profiles and variety, we also pride ourselves on beverage aesthetics. Every drink is as great to look at and photograph as it tastes. Our customers love creating memories that way.