We have had our fair share of student-run businesses in Singapore. It’s always an eye-opening experience learning from these brave entrepreneurs that started this whole adulting thing in the face and said, “let’s do this”.
Likewise, the owner of Lalune, Jia Jia Phua, decided to do the same thing. Although things happened a little differently for her.
Lalune (not to be confused with Melbourne’s Lune Croissanterie) is a quaint little kiosk located in the basement of 313 Somerset.
Here you’ll find freshly baked goods such as croissants and danishes as well as a crowd favourite, bubble tea. An unlikely pairing, but one that is kind of genius. After all, can we really say no to bubble tea?
As we get talking, Jia Jia tells me of how she developed these croissants with their Shanghainese partner.
In Shanghai, they were not only impressed by how easy they were to prepare, but also that all the ingredients used were from Europe. I’m talking the flour, the butter—the entire shebang.
All Jia Jia had to do was to pop them into the oven for half an hour and poof these flaky French pastries were ready. What really sealed the deal was of course that these croissants were delicious.
With that, Jia Jia and her mother decided to bring these croissants to Singapore.
During this whole process, Jia Jia’s mother was also her business partner. Naturally, they would have to be working closely to ensure everything goes smoothly. It is also worth noting that her mother, Jasmine Lim, has more than 10 years of experience as a food importer.
As you can imagine, starting a business from the ground up is no small feat. Jia Jia was a communications student so this was certainly not her field of expertise. Tensions ran high and Jia Jia mentions the arguments that ensued.
It definitely took a toll on their relationship. At one point, Jia Jia even applied for other jobs related to her field of study. She eventually turned them down, citing how running Lalune was not an opportunity she could easily pass up.
Jia Jia decided she would try to work things out with her mother and this time, things were much better. Lalune managed to successfully open its doors in late April 2019.
After all that, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on those croissants.
I started with the Original (S$2.90) croissant; as with any baked good you want to try them without embellishments first. What you want to look for in a croissant that has a nice crispy exterior followed by a soft and buttery interior.
On first glance, the croissant had pretty good layering from where the butter had been folded in. The croissant didn’t have that crust that I was expecting but I wanted to give it a taste first.
The croissant was soft and buttery on the inside and was tasty indeed. I was pretty satisfied with this croissant—I reckon this would make a great breakfast.
The Chocolate (S$3.90) croissant was next on my list, this one has to be a favourite of mine because, well, chocolate! From the looks of it, it was clear the chocolate has been incorporated into the dough. It was already a promising sign.
As I peeled the layers of the croissant, I was pleased (and excited) that there was a substantial amount of chocolate in between those buttery and flaky layers.
The chocolate was sweet but not cloying and didn’t have that waxy artificial taste that left a bad taste in my mouth.
Up next was Lalune’s Custard (S$3.90) Croissant; this was surprisingly my favourite. I’m not usually a fan of custard on the account of it being way too eggy and thick.
Lalune’s Custard Croissant was light and fragrant and complemented the buttery layers. I would imagine this would go excellently with a cup of Earl Grey tea.
The last croissant of the day was the Honey (S$3.90) Croissant, which was stuffed with a sweet honey jelly. One for the sweet tooths out there, this croissant was delightful and would be perfect with a cup of strong black coffee.
You didn’t think I would forget about the bubble tea, did you?
Well, Lalune’s bubble tea comes in a charming, ergonomic bottle. I ordered the Dirty Milk Tea (S$4) which is basically your brown sugar milk tea.
When I was talking Jia Jia about how she developed the flavours of the bubble tea, I found out that she isn’t a bubble tea fan at all! So, the R&D process for her wasn’t as fun as you might think.
You would think that would be a disadvantage but instead, Jia Jia says it helped her be more critical and precise with the exact tea blends she wanted.
With those trademark brown sugar streaks and a generous scoop of pearls, this was a pretty good cup of brown sugar milk tea, in my honest opinion. There was just enough brown sugar to keep this drink the indulgent treat it is intended to be, and the pearls were soft and chewy.
After knowing the sheer amount of work Jia Jia put into the custom tea blends, I had to give them a taste. Just to keep it simple, I decided on the Peach Milk Tea (S$3.50) which comes with a creamy layer of milk foam.
The drink was refreshing, light and fruity that was not cloying at all. Of course, there are more exciting flavours, such as the Dragon Royale (S$5) that comes in a vibrant pink if that suits your fancy.
On paper, bubble tea and croissants don’t seem like they would work seeing as they come from two disparate cuisines and yet, they do. Lalune makes the croissant accessible to everyone, not to mention, the range of flavours they offer keeps it exciting and fun.
When Jia Jia talks of this entire experience, she reiterates that anyone thinking of following in her footsteps must not do so lightly. The day-to-day operations are tough and there are times where it can be overwhelming. Nevertheless, Jia Jia relishes and appreciates the opportunity she was given to go out of her comfort zone.
And isn’t what this whole adulting gig is supposed to be about?
Expected Damage: S$3.90 – S$8 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
313 Orchard Road, [email protected] Somerset, #B3 - 48A, Singapore 238895