By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jan 18, 2024 at 11:02 AM Photography: Lori Fredrich

West Milwaukee’s first bubble tea cafe is serving up a full menu of tea and fruit-based drinks, smoothies, croffles and freshly made poke bowls.

Big Straw Cafe is the name of the independently owned shop, which softly opened at The Shoppes of Miller Park Way, 2088 Miller Park Way, in December of 2023 and hosted its official grand opening on Jan. 2, 2024.

Behind the concept is Chutikul Sricharoen, who also operates West Milwaukee’s Spicy Tuna alongside co-owner Matt Jitphungtham.

“Everywhere I go, I try different kinds of bubble tea,” says Sricharoen, who co-owned another bubble tea shop in Chicago before moving to Milwaukee three years ago to take the helm at Spicy Tuna. “I’ve been dreaming about opening my own shop again for years, but I needed to prioritize my work at Spicy Tuna first.”

Step into the cafe and you’ll find a bright modern space with a large service counter and seating for about 15 guests at a combination of two-top tables and bar-style seating along the front windows.

Inside Big Straw CafeX

Branding and design for the space, including the big bear holding a big straw and the ever-changing message board showcasing positive quotes, was created by Sricharoan herself and based on the atmosphere that she wanted to create for her customers.

Big Straw BearX

Sricharoan, who has a background in pastry, says she takes pride in the fact that all of the recipes served at Big Straw Cafe are her original recipes.

“All of our items are made with high-quality ingredients,” she notes, “Including special ingredients imported from Taiwan and Japan.”

What’s a croffle?

The croffle is a creation first popularized at cafes in Seoul, Korea which has since spread across the globe. A cross between a croissant and a waffle, the treat is about the same thickness as a regular waffle, but sports a crispier exterior and a light, airy interior that’s more like a croissant. 

Croffles: Strawberries & Cream; Cookies & Cream

Big Straw Cafe serves made-to-order croffles plain, coated with sugar or topped with either sweet or savory toppings ($4.99-$12.50). Options include strawberries and freshly made whipping cream, cookies and cream, lotus biscoff, marshmallow, banana Nutella, chocolate almond, ham and cheese and brown cheese with ice cream.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays guests can also ask about Sricharoen’s housemade layer cake slices, which come in flavors like Thai Tea and chocolate for around $6.50 each. Whole cakes are also available and can be pre-ordered with at least 48 hours of notice.

Thai Tea Cake (Photo: Chutikul Sricharoen)
Thai Tea Cake (Photo: Chutikul Sricharoen)

Poke Bowls

Thanks to Big Staw Cafe’s relationship with Spicy Tuna, guests can also enjoy a variety of signature poke bowls, all made with sushi-grade fish that’s cut to order at Spicy Tuna and delivered daily to the bubble tea shop.

Spicy Salmon Poke Bowl
Spicy Salmon Poke Bowl

Options include salmon, spicy salmon (pictured), Ahi tuna, and tofu, along with creations like the Volcano Crisp (crispy crabstick, spicy pickled cucumber, pickled carrots, edamame, crab stick, green onion, tempura flake, wonton chips, masago, and spicy mayo) and the Dragon Bowl (BBQ eel, avocado, seaweed salad, pickled carrot, purple cabbage, sesame seed, and unagi sauce. Served with green onions and sesame seeds).

Customers can also customize their bowls with a choice of add-ins including extra fish, fresh or pickled vegetables, seaweed salad or masago. Bowls run $12.95 to $15..95 with add-ons ranging between $1-$5 on average.

Tea, smoothies, more

That includes housemade boba tea which is brewed fresh to order from whole tea leaves which Sricharoan hand-picked based on their flavor profiles. Guests can choose from a wide range of options including over 16 milk teas brewed with teas including black, Jasmine, Earl Grey, Oolong and green tea, along with tisanes like rose petals and lavender.

Meanwhile, fruit teas come in flavors like wild berry, strawberry, passionfruit, rose, peach and mango. Guests can also choose from fruit-ades made with housemade preserves. Flavors include grapefruit, mango, strawberry, and yuzu (honey citron).

From there, guests can choose from toppings including tapioca pearls, crystal boba, jellies (rainbow, mango, lychee, coconut, coffee, brown sugar), popping boba (mango, lychee, strawberry, yogurt), egg pudding, milk foam, cheese foam and fresh whipping cream.

Pictured (left to right): Mango smoothie with mango popping boba; Taro Milk Boba Tea; Brown Sugar Milk Tea with boba; and Galaxy Lemon with lychee boba

Fruit smoothies are also made to order with fresh fruits and vegetables. Guests can choose from signature smoothie blends or combine up to two flavors for a custom smoothie experience. 

For those who would prefer, there is also freshly brewed hot or iced tea (black, jasmine, sencha green, hibiscus berry, English breakfast, chamomile, peach assam, Earl Grey and oolong); plus refreshing house drinks like Thai lemonade, Earl Grey pink lemonade, Galaxy Lemon Tea (Jasmine, lime, butterfly pea flower), Blue Marble (milk tea, butterfly pea flower), Strawberry milk green tea and Lychee Blossom (lychee with butterfly pea flower, pictured below).

Lychee Blossom
Lychee Blossom (lychee and butterfly pea flower)

Guests are also invited to take advantage of the broad knowledge bases of Big Straw Cafe employees, who can make recommendations for flavor combinations that work well together and prevent you from creating a not-so-tasty drink.

“Everyone here is trained to offer guests the best possible experience,” says Sricharoan, “We want everyone to leave happy!”

With that in mind, Sricharoan is offering any OnMilwaukee reader who mentions this article 10% off of their purchase. This offer is valid through Jan. 31, 2024.

More about Big Straw

Big Straw Cafe also offers catering for private parties, corporate events and lunches. Their menu includes a wide range of selections, including options from their sister restaurant Spicy Tuna. Call Big Straw Cafe at (414) 316-9512 or pay a visit to the restaurant for more information.

Big Straw Cafe is open seven days a week from 11-9. You can follow them on Instagram at

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.