6 over-the-top sweets at Atlanta’s Asian tea houses and coffee bars

Beyond basic bubble teas and shaved ice, check out these seriously creative bites

Doraville and Duluth have a plethora of Pan-Asian bakeries and cafes where creativity has almost become a competition. It seems every week, some prolific Instagrammer has unearthed yet another jaw-dropping food creation that defies expectation (and sometimes even seems to defy gravity). Cooler still, at some of these cafes, these dishes even take inspiration from other global trends—at the new Pan-Asian teahouse Boba Bee, for instance, there’s a mango ice cream creation topped with the sugary, chili-encrusted tamarind candy sticks kids often enjoy in Mexico. Many of these coffee shops and tea houses also have a large variety of over-the-top savory treats, but we’ll save the salty fun—Flaming Hot Cheetos-encrusted corn or  Hello Kitty bento boxes, anyone?—for another post. Here are six sweets you shouldn’t miss:

The Hong Kong Bubble Waffle at Boba Bee.

Photography by @YukiLovesFood

Hong Kong egg bubble waffle at Boba Bee
The relative newcomer to Asian Square runs a popular Instagram account where its creations, such as “strawberry fluffy milk,” almost seem conceptualized for the likes. Inside the cafe, which is no bigger than a Subway sandwich shop, there are colorful posters of the creations, including a green tea bubble waffle cup that looks like someone took everything you weren’t allowed to eat as a kid (think M&Ms and Oreos and sugary cereals) and shoved into a short plastic vessel. The crispy edges of the Hong Kong egg bubble waffle reigns in sweet fillings, which include an ice cream of your choice and toppings such as mochi (chewy Japanese rice cakes), condensed milk, fresh strawberries, Pocky (yogurt covered Japanese cookie-cracker sticks), and Fruity Pebbles and Cookie Crisp cereals. To pair with it, try the cafe’s recently launched couples cup—a plastic cup divided into two sections you can fill with drinks such as strawberry juice or milk tea. 5150 Buford Highway Northeast, Doraville, 770-710-0993

The S’mores Toast at Teahouse Formosa.

Photography by @YukiLovesFood

S’mores toast at Tea House Formosa
Since it opened last year, this Taiwanese modern tea house has had Atlantans flocking for crispy taro fries and all kinds of tea-based drinks. While many of its funky, cute creations fall on the salty side, this s’mores toast is a sweet cap to any visit. A thick slice of white bread as pillowy as Wonderbread but with way more flavor is covered with puffed-up marshmallows burnished bronze with a torch, then topped with a chocolate drizzle and pinch of crumbled graham crackers. The smushy, sweet cloud of happiness that will have you floating for the rest of the day. 5302 Buford Highway Northeast, Doraville, 470-349-8105

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Milk tea and boba at Vivi Bubble Tea
This Taiwanese franchise (there are 30 U.S. locations, with most in New York City) made a name for itself by serving its boba (fruit and tea drinks filled with tapioca or red bean pearls) in plastic vessels shaped like upside-down light bulbs, complete with a little silver screw base. Walking into the pink-striped store feels like you’ve stumbled into Rainbow Brite’s bedroom—there’s even a pink-and-white swing, ready for you to take selfies upon. The cafe has loads of drink options, from passion fruit tea to taro milk tea, but the one that seems to get the most Insta-love matches the cafe’s cutesy bubblegum chic decor perfectly—a milk tea crowned with a big poof of baby pink cotton candy. 5306 Buford Highway Northeast, Doraville, 678-353-6722

The Green Tea Crepe Cake at Summer Memory Station.

@YukiLovesFood on Instagram.

Green tea crepe cake at Summer Memory Station
I had my first taste of a layered crepe cake at Lady M, a bakery that opened in New York in 2004 and garnered praise for its delicate cakes filled with Japanese-inspired ingredients. The chilled green tea crepe cake at Summer Memory Station manages to hold a candle to that high standard. Delicate, thin crepes are layered with a buttery cream and the slightest hint of green tea, then covered with a thick blanket of matcha powder. If you have room, grab an order of the “white cloud,” sweet and crunchy wafers mixed with liquid nitrogen that billows out of your nostrils and mouth as you crunch down. (Also, swings have apparently become the latest decor trend along Buford Highway—you’ll find wooden ones inside this cafe.) 2180 Pleasant Hill Rd, Duluth, 770-559-5304

Special honey toast “Jenga” & taro shaved snow at Snowflake Tea House

@YukiLoveFood on instagram

Honey toast at Snowflake Tea House
Fellow fans of board games and breadstuffs, have I got the treat for you! This Taiwanese tea house serves loaves of white bread hollowed out and stuffed with ice cream. Ice cream in bread! And if that wasn’t enough, they top the ice cream with spiral Pirouline cookies or macarons or fruit. But perhaps even cooler is this “Jenga” honey toast, made with with taro shaved snow and fresh strawberries. (That means it’s technically healthy, right?) The tea house also serves more than 40 iced and hot teas—the hot honey ginger tea is must-drink if you’re feeling under the weather. 2180 Pleasant Hill Road, 
Duluth, 678-475-1560

The Watermelon Bingsu

Photography by @YukiLovesFood

Bingsu at Orange Coffee Bar
This Korean coffee house in Duluth serves one of Korea’s favorite ways to cool down: bingsu. Dating back to the Joseon Dynasty, bingsu is traditionally shaved ice flavored with sweetened or condensed milk, then topped with red bean porridge, fresh fruit, nuts, or seeds. At Orange Coffee Bar, they serve it in a hollowed-out watermelon topped with perfectly round watermelon balls and whipped cream. Another snack to try is the honey bread, a thick slab of toasted Korean milk bread topped with ice cream, chocolate syrup, and fruit. (Oh, and the coffee is pretty good, too.) 3473 Old Norcross Road, Duluth, 678-691-1646