When you first walk into Momo Ashi Tea & Snack Bar in Bayside, you’ll immediately be greeted by a bright pink wall adorned with friendly cat and dog illustrations. On the leftmost side of the decorative wall is a light-up sign that bears the words “Be Pawsitive.”
This whimsical world of bubble tea and Asian snack foods was created by Fresh Meadows resident and owner Fiona Cheng, who soft-opened the shop at 40-06 Bell Blvd. this past December.
Cheng and her business partner founded the original Momo Ashi in Flushing back in 2017. Prior to opening the shop, the Taiwan native had a career in design but later transitioned into the food industry.
“My partner had some business background so we worked together [to] do the research of the recipes and we worked together to create all of the snack items,” Cheng said.
The eatery is known for its range of affordable teas and snacks popular in Taiwan and Japan. After experiencing success at their Flushing shop, they wanted to open up a second location to reach more people.
She and her partner had been searching for a prime location “all around New York” that would cater mostly to families and a younger demographic. She shared that an important factor was finding a place large enough to have a seating area.
“In [the] Flushing store, that place is like a take-out place so you don’t have the nice seating area to enjoy the food, snacks and everything,” Cheng said.
They heard that the former SweetPea Nail & Spa storefront in Bayside was available for rent and decided that the neighborhood was a good fit for them.
“We think that people here have an interest in the product,” the owner said.
The bigger location also allowed them to serve more handcrafted food, including “Momo Toast,” a Taiwanese snack made with thick pieces of white toast covered in custard, “Mo-Nigiri,” seaweed covered rice triangles filled with fish or meat and their unique “WaMochi” mashup that combines the texture of crisp waffles and chewy mochi.
According to Cheng, recipe testing involved some trial and error while she and her partner worked to perfect the taste and texture of their products. They met up twice a week for two months to test the WaMochi recipe, which Cheng said they tweaked from a Taiwanese recipe.
In addition to the recipes, Cheng was also involved in the store design and decor, which heavily features drawings of her cat and a former dog who passed away. The name “Momo Ashi” literally translates to “peach feet” which Cheng explains is directly related to the pink pawprint in their logo.
She added that the “squishy” feel of animal paws is representative of “the foundation behind a lot of things that we do.”
Cheng said that the new store has been a popular backdrop to their customers’ photos on social media in the short time that they’ve been opened.
The owner shared that treating her customers as a part of the family is important to her business model.
“Our customers mean everything to us. For us personally, we try to treat each customer like they’re part of our family. We care about the people and it does mean a lot. We’re not here without them,” Cheng said.