Naughtea has opened in Ankeny with Korean hot dogs and boba tea


I felt young again.

I was in Ankeny last month to meet the newest member of the police force, but the highlight of my itinerary that day was making my way to Naughtea’s soft opening in Ankeny, 1810 SW White Birch Circle, which promised a full selection of bubbly tea. I haven’t had much since my long gone days at Bubbleology in Iowa City, may she rest in peace. Naughtea also offers an extravagant take on the corn dog popularized as street food in South Korea, which I’ve never eaten on the subway or anywhere else.

For owner Valery Tongol, that was the goal. Tongol moved to Iowa from Los Angeles in 2013, and the first thing he sought out was boba, the bubble tea drink that continues to spread in popularity around the world. She wanted to open a shop that offered more variety—one that would bring all her favorites together in one place—and one of Tongol’s obsessions was the Korean corn dog, which is usually deep-fried and sugar-coated with rich flavor combinations.

Milk tea creme brûlée boba and classic Korean corn dog from Naughtea in Ankeny.

“I said since we don’t have it here in Iowa, I have to bring it here to my store,” Tongol told me.

Opening Naughtea represents a career change for Tongol, after her time at Pella Corp., for a dream that was in the making.

Cindy Le, a bobber at Naughtea in Ankeny, uses a flashlight to make a milk tea boba creme brulee.

“Seeing the vision come to life was fantastic,” said manager Anthony McClendon, whom Tongol invited to join Naughtea after they worked together at Pella.

On opening day, I planned to be the first customer in the store, but I was beaten by a few who were braver than me and ended up being customer number 7 or so. I stood in line behind an expert on the local bubble tea scene and a family trying it for the first time as I scanned the menu for what I wanted to try.