Bubble tea spot PYO Chai opens second Long Island location, in Hicksville
Two years after two brothers opened PYO Chai in Stewart Manor, they’ve brought their concept to a second location, in Hicksville, one that’s a smaller-scale replica of the original.
Shaheer Khan, 24, and Saqib, 19, take over the space that was formerly Frangos Peri Peri with their bubble tea spot, one that combines the drink’s original Taiwanese roots with South Asian flavors.
Shaheer said he hopes PYO Chai helps introduce "South Asian flavors to people who may not have tried it before or who are maybe intimidated to try it" while acting as a platform for South Asians "to feel pride in sort of the flavors and culture they grew up with."
He brought the second installation of the business to Hicksville because he feels “it’s such a cultural hub,” he added.
The shop’s signature drinks feature brown sugar boba and the South Asian ice cream known as kulfi (made with clarified milk, sugar and natural flavors). There are five to choose from, including the popular malai kulfi milk tea, which is flavored with cardamom and nuts and is served with a scoop of malai kulfi, and the mango kulfi milk tea, a more fruity take on the former; plus newcomer paan kulfi milk tea, whose flavor leans toward mint chocolate chip.
Other newcomers to look out for: The Kashmiri chai (described on the menu as “a creamsicle with a floral taste”) and the pina coolada milk tea. Craving something hot? Go for the desi masala chai, Kashmiri chai or brown sugar milk teas. All drinks come in two sizes — regular, starting at $5.50, and large, starting at $6.25.
“We think back to our childhood, or our trips to Pakistan, or India, or Nepal,” Shaheer said about the concoctions he and his staff come up with that ultimately make up the menu.
Boba goes through a traditional boiling and stewing process, one that takes about 50 minutes, Shaheer said, adding that at PYO, they take it one step further and stew the boba for an additional hour in brown sugar molasses. Otherwise, boba, made from cassava root, comes flavorless.
Shaheer, a Stony Brook University graduate, and Saqib, who's currently studying at University of Buffalo, make up to four batches of it a day, each batch consisting of thousands of tiny pearls.
While bubble tea is all the hype here, the menu does encompass fruit teas as well. Basil seeds, popping boba, lychee jelly and the like are offered as additional toppings, too.
The space, which has a little more than a handful of tables, features the spot's signature “take life one sip at a time” sign, South Asian-inspired wall art by Raeqa Nuha Mahmud (@aestheticsbynuha) and a 23-foot-long mural hand-painted by local Bengali artist Mohuya Khan (aka, Labyrinth Ave).
PYO Chai hosts events at both locations, including henna and sip nights, speed dating and paint nights.
PYO Chai is at 217 Bethpage Rd. in Hicksville (in the Kundan Galleria shopping mall by Mithaas and Apna Bazar). It’s open daily from noon to 10 p.m. More info: 516-460-8616; pyochai.com