Urban Fox Coffee & Boba Blends Local Tastes with Asian Imports 

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Lex Nelson

Urban Fox Coffee & Boba is an undeniable hybrid: Its corner store off of Eagle and Ustick roads in Meridian sells Boise-sourced coffee and pastries (courtesy of Caffeina and Gaston's Bakery) alongside Taiwanese-inspired boba tea and sweet toast, all surrounded by sleek, modern decor that looks like it could have come straight off of Pinterest, Instagram or Etsy.

click to enlarge LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
The vibe is courtesy of Owner Haena Cho's California roots. Cho moved to Boise from the San Francisco Bay Area about a year ago to help her parents run a local restaurant. But when her family gave up the restaurant in search of a quieter retirement, Cho decided to strike out on her own and fill what she felt was a vacant niche in the Boise restaurant scene—despite being an accountant by trade.

"I don't see a lot of boba places around here," she said. "Back in San Francisco they used to be on every other corner. So I thought it would be a nice venture, but at the same time I'm a coffee girl, so I couldn't give up [that]."

Boba tea, or bubble tea, is a sweet Taiwanese drink that mixes a milk base with tea, sweetener and other flavorings, served with chewy tapioca balls or fruit-flavored jellies at the bottom. While Urban Fox isn't the only boba spot in Boise (Boise Boba, Snake River Tea and a handful of Asian restaurants also offer it) it's likely one of the best researched.

"I went around Los Angeles and the Bay Area for about a month and a half, tasting the boba and looking for boba suppliers," Cho said.

click to enlarge LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
She finally settled on Tea La Coffee Inc., a company out of Paramount, California. The choice was a good one: The milk in the Thai tea-flavored drink was rich with herb notes, and the tapioca balls were soft and chewy, taken to the next level by a punch of caramel sweetness.

Perhaps the shop's best Asian import, though, is its sweet toast, a play on a French toast-type dessert (sans egg) popular in Japan, Taiwan and Singapore that Urban Fox makes with bread from Acme Bakeshop. Cho explained:

"Sweet toast is similar to brick toast. You get this big, thick piece of white bread, add butter, toast it [and serve it] with a little sweetened syrup on top, fruit toppings and whipped cream."

The final product was a true confection, caught somewhere between the buttery flake of a croissant and the melt-in-your mouth sweetness of angel food cake. The toast was served warm, while the almond-flaked whipped cream was cool and the diced strawberries sprinkled over the top were nearly frozen, adding another element of contrast to the dish.

Urban Fox also serves toast topped with sweetened condensed milk, and Cho said ice cream is coming soon, along with seasonal boba flavors for fall and winter. 
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