AAs soon as I saw pictures of the new Rabbit Rabbit Tea Steamed Buns on Instagram, I knew I wanted to be the first in line to get my hands on them. Rabbits, pigs and even a cute-faced onigiri: these are the cutest filled bao buns I’ve ever seen. They made their Hawai’i debut on Monday October 4th at the boba store on South King Street and you can bet I was there.
In real life, each of the six baos turns out to be more adorable than the last. The bunny and cloud buns are simple but the others are filled: taro for the onigiri, caramel for the boba, red bean for the apple and sweet yam for the pig. I’m happy to report that they’re not just cute, they’re delicious. The steamed buns are soft; even the simplest are hard to stop eating. They have a delicate flavor, like freshly baked white bread, with a slight touch of sweetness. On the flavor side, my favorites are the pork and onigiri, whose toppings are not too sweet and go perfectly with the warm, soft dough. Because you know I must have devoured all six. For research.
Afterwards, my stomach is full and my mind is full of questions. Questions like why, Rabbit Rabbit Tea? Why bao rolls? No other boba store in Hawai’i has one.
The answers come from owner Alice Chan, who was born and raised in Taichung, Taiwan, the birthplace of boba milk tea. Chan opened the first Hawaiian Rabbit Rabbit Tea store in ‘Aiea in 2019 and the second on King Street near University Avenue last spring. On a recent trip to Taiwan, she discovered kawaii buns. This set in motion his trans-Pacific plan.
Workers in Taiwan prepare the buns by hand, paying meticulous attention to details like the blush on the cheeks of each bao bun. They are sold in sets of five for $ 24.95 (one from each filled bao and a plain bun or bunny bun), either freshly steamed or frozen to store and heat at home.
And oh yes! Rabbit Rabbit Tea also sells boba drinks, some with names as cute as the new buns. The bestsellers are Brown Sugar Boba with Fresh Milk, Mango Madness, Mojito Queen of Hearts, Pinky Bunny Smoothie, and Buckwheat Milk Tea with Golden Boba. A new line of ‘Buzzed Bunny’ mocktails which also debuted on October 4 is made with Heineken 0.0 in a variety of flavors including mango, strawberry, grape, lychee, orange and pineapple. Chan’s must-drink drinks are Mango Madness or Mountain Sprout Pure Tea topped with caramel milk froth. Personally, I’m a fan of buckwheat milk tea, Mango Parfait and Kyoto Matcha Latte.
A visit to Rabbit Rabbit Tea is like taking a whimsical trip to the rabbit hole, a delicious kawaii rabbit hole. If you go for the buns, you better jump on them. If the buns are a hit, they can end up on the permanent menu. Otherwise, they will only be available for a limited time and only at the King Street location.
Open daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., 2700 S. King St., @rabbitrabbittea_hi
Special thanks to Stephanie Kuroda for her help with the photos for this piece.