Growing up in Rochester, Tiffiny Do and her family traveled two hours to Eat Street to grocery shop at Asian supermarkets like Truong Thanh. Now Tiffiny and her husband Hoang have opened a shop on Eat Street, buying ingredients from their favorite markets to make chè, coffees and smoothies. And they’re seeing customers travel for hours to bring bulk orders home.
“It’s kind of like home to us,” she said. “It reminds me of my childhood too.”
Bambu’s menu is designed to bridge traditional and modern tastes. Smoothies are available for customers who prefer smoother drink textures without jellies or tapioca.
“It’s something you’re able to enjoy without feeling it’s overwhelming,” Tiffiny said.
Staff prepare fresh ingredients in the kitchen each morning — the coconut milk, for example, is chopped and squeezed fresh. Drinks are packed with ingredients like pennywort, guava, jackfruit, passion fruit and durian. (Durian was recently sampled on Jimmy Kimmel as the “bleu cheese of fruit.”)
The most popular drink is the Bambu Favorite, made with pandan jelly, red tapioca, grass jelly and finished with fresh coconut milk.
“They’re dessert that’s drinkable in a cup,” Tiffiny said.
The store is also planning to offer Bubbies, which are Hawaiian bite-sized mochi ice creams wrapped in sweetened rice.
The shop at 2743 Nicollet Ave. is Minnesota’s first and the nation’s 53rd Bambu store in a franchise originally created by four sisters in San Jose.
Hoang works as a builder and home flipper, and Tiffiny works as an independent beautician. Hoang served as the general contractor for the new space (formerly African Market), and he built the window-side bench and the front counter.
On a recent weekday, a television played Top 40 Vietnamese artists, and a line started forming for drinks after lunch. Tiffiny said the café has become a popular night spot, and they’re staying open until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends.