I have been lazy of late and have not been diligent at blogging. I have decided today to introduce you to some of our new acquaintances we have made in Singapore – that is to say describe some of the new drinks we have tried.
Singapore holds many new experiences, not the least of which is new beverages to try. Some are similar to what you would find in the states. Some are new and unfamiliar to us, to the point of being bizarre. And still some are becoming new favorites.
The Favorite: Strawberry Soursop
Our very favorite unique-to-Singapore drink is a smoothie sold at the CoolMan stall right before we enter the nearest grocery store. While many things are more expensive than in the States, one item that is consistently cheaper is a nice, cold, freshly made, real smoothie. There are two reasons I can think of for smoothies being cheaper: 1) Fruit is in a relative abundance as it is a tropical climate, and 2) It is ALWAYS hot and humid, and thus the demand for smoothies is greater! Whatever the reason we are glad we are glad that our favorite smoothie only runs us S$2.20 (about USD$1.80).
Strawberry Soursop Smoothie
Soursop is a fruit we have yet to try in straight fruit form. However we have had it in plenty of other forms, including juice mixed with 7-up, the aforementioned smoothie, and a kiwi-soursop smoothie. All of which are very sweet.
Back to store-made smoothies. One of the neat things about the smoothies is how they are packaged.
They have a machine that fuses a plastic film (similar to thick saran wrap) to the lip of the cup forming a lid. You use a straw to puncture the plastic forming a very secure closure. Except where the straw enters the plastic, it is very leak proof. I’ve had the cup held at angles I would never dream for a regular plastic lid. The only time I’ve had a plastic lid put on my smoothies here is when the plastic lid sealer machine has been out of order (coincidentally the time I took the picture as seen above with the Strawberry Soursop Smoothie).
Oh, and when they give you this type of drink you are invariably asked “would you like a carrier?” Translation, “would you like a bag to carry your drink in?” They will plop the drink into a small plastic bag, ahem, carrier so that you can easily take your drink with you.
Soursop is not the only new fruit that has been incorporated into smoothies for us here in Singapore. Personally we have taken to using dragon fruit in our homemade smoothies.
We make our own smoothies quite frequently. The upside – it’s the perfect treat at home to take a break from the heat. The downside – strawberries (or any type of berry) are expensive. A 1 lb. bag of frozen strawberries runs us about S$7.00 . Hence, it often is the case that it is cheaper to purchase a professionally made smoothie. That doesn’t stop us from making our own experimental flavors at home though.
In addition to homemade smoothies, which we make once or twice a week, we have taken to making frappes almost every weekday morning. Probably a bad habit – but we can’t help ourselves. Our frappes are made in the blender with 1-2 bananas, a boatload of ice, Milo (a type of chocolate drink powder), and an instant cappuccino/coffee mix.
But if smoothies aren’t your thing. Have no fear. Singapore has much more to offer.
the American classic: Starbucks
The nearest Starbucks is located in the mall that is an 8 minutes walk from home. The biggest downside: it cost S$7.00 give or take (depending on size and type of drink). They were already expensive in the States. Here, well, when you have great local creations are your fingertips for a mere fraction of the cost, why bother. We have on occasion gone to starbucks when we need that extra caffeine boost combined with the familiarity of home feel. (It’s sad to say that Starbucks and McDonalds are some of the things that are weakneses that remind us of our homeland!)
the Chinese classic: ANYTHING with nato de coco (also called nata de coco.)
I have referred to this mystery substance before in one of my first Singapore blogposts. We first had in our trial run of Grass Jelly Drink. (Let’s just say, not an experience we are eager to repeat.)
We have unexpectedly had the nata de coco in other drinks like a fruit yogurt drink and apple juice (it seems to show up when you least expect it). Thankfully both of the latter experiences were better and not as frightening.
The Chinese version of Starbucks: Koi Cafe
In the States you find long lines at Starbucks – long lines that at times surpass the capacity of the store. Here, that phenomenon happens at Koi Cafe. We did not have the gumption to tackle the line that is ALWAYS at Koi until a good friend convinced us that it was worth the line. A line indicates a successful product, right?
The specialty of Koi is bubble tea. Bubble Tea comes in a variety of flavors but always has a layer of tapioca beads at the bottom. The tapioca beads are sweet and chewy and go right up the straw as you sip the drink. Koi’s edible beads are just the right consistency, size, and sweetness; they are a level above other comparable shops that offer bubble tea.
The two most common bubble teas are a milk tea version and a straight green tea rendition. However, if your taste buds run to more exotic or fruity varieties, there are an endless list of flavor and tea combinations. Oh, and at Koi they ask for your preferred sugar content, either %100, %70, %50, %30 or %0 (… though I’m not sure what the % actually refers to…).
Our first two attempts included the classic bubble milk tea and a Plum Green Tea flavored bubble tea. We probably won’t get the bubble milk tea. But the Plum flavor was worth purchasing another time. Andrew has also gotten a strawberry flavor from a different shop that he likes.
Indian Style: name unknown
Okay, so this drink had a name, but we don’t know and haven’t figured out yet what it was. We’ll report back.
When the cable guy came to install our cable/internet he asked if our landlords or previous tenants were Indian. Why would he ask such a thing? Well, the color of our apartment! (See our old living room color, here.)
Unbeknownst to him, the fuchsia in our apartment reminded us of Pepto Bismal. However, he insisted that it was the exact shade of a very popular Indian drink. He described it as being part tea, part milk, and part rose flavored, and well, you guessed it, the color of our walls. We are fairly certain that this drink that we stumbled upon was the drink to which our cable guy referred.
Carbonated milky rose tea. That is about the right description of this Hot Pink Indian Drink (no idea of the real name). Unfortunately, just as we won’t be reverting back to hot pink in our apartment, we probably will not go back to drinking this hot pink beverage again.
You can find your American coke or sprite… but the fruity flavors prevail as the more preferred types here in Singapore. (This is good for me as I do not like brown sodas such as coke, pepsi, or root beer.) We have bought sparkling apple soda, green apple, strawberry, grape, orange, and maybe some others. You can buy soursop and other interesting fruit juices in a soda can, but really they are uncarbonated. One of our favorite sodas is actually a combination of Soursop Juice and 7-up or Sprite. We also like combining sprite with other juices, like Lime Juice.
Another interesting note: When you go out to eat at the hawker stall centers or at a food court you must go to a separate stall to purchase your drink. Unless you’re going to a fancier sit down restaurant or a fast food chain, like McD’s – you do not get a set meal. But thankfully most cans of sodas are still only around a S$1 (imported drinks tend to be a little bit more, maybe $1.20).
Other drink acquaintances
Chinese Wine. Our impression: a fruity vodka with a STRONG aftertaste.
Singapore Water. Alright, this is really just normal water. But locals (Asians in general) don’t mind drinking water hot and plain. Iced water is a fairly western introduction aparently. During his last visit with our landlord, Andrew was offered the option of some water or juice. He politely accepted the offer of water. Little did he realize that it would be a glass of very warm water, straight. He made a mental note of requesting the juice next time.
Unrefrigerated Milk. Yeah. That’s right. Most milk is sold unrefrigerated as it is UHT (Ultra Heat Treated). Our logic is that this cuts down on the costs associated with importing refrigerated milk. Be that as it may, it still is a little hard to get used to. You can buy milk that is sold in the refrigerated section – it’s just more expensive. One of my friends here in Singapore, also from the States, remarked with a voice of surprise, “You drink the unrefrigerated stuff!?” I assured her that neither of us drink much milk. We primarily use the milk for cooking. In addition, we refrigerate the milk once we bring it home anyways.
Avocado Smoothie. We didn’t remember to take a picture. This drink was a thick, sweet, green, um… avocado smoothie! On the interesting side of things we’ve tried. Not our favorite, but nor is it something we would write off as never trying again.
Whether they are bizarre or scrumptious, due to the hot tropical weather, we’ll won’t stop partaking of the drinks Singapore has to offer 🙂