Bobalicious: Authentic Vietnamese without crossing the Pacific


Quentin Misiag

Bobalicious Vietnamese Bistro

(319) 333-1231

Tuesday: Closed

M-Sat: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Sun: Noon-8 p.m.

Winter hours may vary

21 HWY 1 West

Iowa City, IA 52246

With the recent opening of Bobalicious, (July 2011), one doesn’t have to cross the Pacific when craving truly authentic Vietnamese cuisine including Banh Mi sandwiches, pho (soup), coffee and Sinh Tho (commonly referred to as Boba Tea). Rather, a short trip to Bobalicious on the southside of Iowa City should satisfy such hankerings. Bright chocolate and watermelon colored walls warm up the rather intimate space that features a small bar area and three clear-glass tables that each seat four. Despite the small, 16-seat space, the natural sunlight that flows through the store adds to the upbeat, cheery atmosphere. Almost the entire left wall of the store is covered with multi-colored sticky notes, complete with customer experiences and small drawings.

Reasonably priced, items run between 80 cents for a can of soda to $10 for a combo meal (any Banh-Mi sub + a single Boba Tea + a side of edamame), with the average price hovering around $6. Arguably the most popular Bobalicious menu item is the more than two dozen varieties of Boba Teas including Blueberry Strawberry, Taro, Passion Fruit, Milk Tea and Leychee. Each drink can be paired with Mochi (Japanese rice gummy), tapioca pearls or coconut jam to be mixed in with the tea drinks. Select energy drinks and soda including Red Bull and Mountain Dew can be blended in as well.

We opted to order the Banh Mi sandwich (B2) ($4.75) that consisted of baked strips of tofu that resembles white meat chicken, cilantro leaves, cucumber and carrots- piled into a slightly toasted flaky and crispy buttered French baguette. Although the sandwich was composed more-so of vegetables, portions were adequate and satisfying. A subtle hint of garlic came through with each light bite. The sandwich was far from salty and as a whole, was a colorful delight. A variety of dressings including hoisin, fish and soy sauce are available to increase palette pleasure.


The Blueberry-Strawberry Boba Tea was the perfect drink to wash down the sandwich. Made with real blueberries and strawberries, the drink was a sweet and creamy iced combination. Described as a subtle mix between a glass of milk and a slushie, we enjoyed the Boba with a hearty portion of tapioca pearls at the bottom. With each sip of the tea, we were able to suck up three to four of the sweet and chewy tapioca pearls – thanks to the oversized straw. The teas were rich and indulgent, but not quite the typical thick smoothie consistency.

The service at Bobalicious is friendly, knowledgeable and deliver true authenticity with homemade flavor and variety, for seemingly any taste bud. Orders are ready in a matter of minutes, making for an easy stop on your way to and from work and extracurricular activities. The addition of free Wi-Fi may is also an great plus to any visit.