It’ll soon be a new choice for passionate dessert lovers.
BlackBall Taiwanese Desserts, a chain that started in Asia a decade ago, is coming to Edmonds. The opening for the restaurant at 22001 Highway 99, Suite 300, is scheduled for April 15.
The first U.S. franchise opened last year in San Gabriel, California, to rave reviews and has quickly became a popular destination.
Blackball’s No. 1 signature dessert uses grass jelly as a base with taro balls, boba and sweet potato balls; it is served hot or cold. The cold version is topped with crushed ice and tastes like a refined ice cream.
Grass jelly is made from the mesona chineensis plant, an herb in the mint family, which grows in East Asia. The stalks and dried leaves of the plant are boiled and turn into a dark brown jelly.
“Grass jelly is believed to have medicinal and cooling properties and has an herbal scent,” said Tim (Thieu) Nguyen, who owns the Edmonds location. “Grass jelly is popular with Asians; they have been eating it for a thousand years.”
He added, “The menu focuses on healthy food and natural ingredients.”
Nguyen is a former computer programmer who owned Seattle Nails Spa Supply and who also worked as a real estate agent.
His sister, Thuy Nguyen, will manage BlackBall Taiwanese Desserts.
Another one of the desserts at BlackBall is aiyu jelly that is used as the base for seven combinations. Aiyu jelly is made from the gel of seeds of a variety of fig plants that are grown in Taiwan and East Asian countries.
The menu includes three dessert soups, xian cao, almond and black glutino rice soups, which are served hot or warm.
The restaurant also has seven crushed ices that include flavors like cranberry and taro.
Part of the experience for customers is to taste and test different combinations. Customers can choose from 18 toppings to add to their desserts such as rice balls, aloe vera and kidney bean.
The menu also offers 33 drinks separated into six categories. The fresh milk section includes fresh milk with xian cao, grass jelly or boba. Smoothies have a variety of flavors such as sour plum, red bean and taro milk.
Customers can enjoy 10 specialty drinks such as xian cao tea with grass jelly, passion fruit green tea or cranberry lemon drink.
Traditional black or green teas are included in the freshly brewed category along with caramel milk or fresh milk green teas.
Nguyen chose Edmonds as the site for Washington’s first BlackBall location, because of a large Asian population in the Puget Sound area, the nearness to two community colleges and what he believes are a number of people eager to experience new food delights. He traveled to Taiwan to meet with the owner, learn about the company and to prepare for the store’s opening.
The “black” part of the name comes from the color of grass jelly and “ball” from the sweet potato and taro balls.
Although BlackBall is new to the U.S., it is growing with 50 franchises in 15 countries. The U.S. headquarters is in California and Nguyen owns the Washington franchise opportunities.