Bubble tea was so last year (as well as the last decade). Frozen yoghurts like Frolick have also shut down numerous outlets, while the homemade ice cream market is saturated with players like Udders, Salted Caramel, Tom’s Palette and a plethora more names. Sustaining trends that have integrated into our culture include takeaway bread bun stores, Tao huey and modern kaya toast shops like Toast Box and Ya Kun. So what are the latest food fads in Singapore to try, or to franchise in? Here’s a list.
1) Italian Gelato
Gelatos have been around Singapore as long as Ice cream, but its popularity only boomed last year. The difference between Ice cream and Gelato is that the latter is denser and has less fat content, so it’s not as ‘jelat’, or the sick feeling you get when you overeat creamy/oily/sweet foods. Although there are as many Gelato stores as Ice cream stores, the trends seems to be holding up as Gelato stores pop up one after another like Gelateria Venezia, Gelatissimo, Gelateria Italia, Estivo Gelateria and so on. This trend is nearing it’s peak though. With their very fancy displays, Gelatos have managed to capture the attention of many ice cream converts even though the pricing is slightly steeper.
2) Customized milkshakes
The latest player in the highly contested dessert market is MakeShake. Serving up customizable milkshakes, MakeShake is making a name for itself in Jurong Point with immense student popularity. Mix and match ingredients like KitKat, Kinder Bueno and Oreo into an ice cream or yoghurt base to create your own personal milkshake. Started in 2011, a similar concept called Shake-A-Treat also emerged in 2012, while MakeShake has plans to expand more outlets. Definitely as the market proves more lucrative, more competitors are going to join the bandwagon, but for now, customized milkshakes are just threading the surface of an early market.
3) Indie coffee
Hidden in the most elusive parts of Singapore, indie specialty coffee houses are popping up and proving too cool for you to have heard about. Even the outlet names sound intentionally misleading for the uninformed out-group. Chye Seng Huat Hardware for example, sounds like a place you go to when your tap is leaking. Instead what you get there is a world of robust, artfully done espresso based beverages. Jewel, Jimmy Monkey, Loysel’s Toy; It’s as if these guys don’t want to be found at all.
4) $5 booze
It first started with Five Izakaya, where house beers, wines, house pours went for $5 a pop, all night long. Other establishments like Sauce have since started copying this mass volume model after seeing how much crowd it brings in. With price inflations everywhere and the high alcohol tax, such a move was unheard of before Five. But their gamble paid off, as young PMEBs flock to their outlets for cheap beers, while still looking more fashionable than drinking at the neighborhood coffee shop.
Leading cupcakes into the mainstream is twelve cupcakes, owned by local celebrity couple Daniel Ong and Jaime Teo. Before that, cupcakes were popularized by indie bakers like Baked by Lace at pop-up stores and online orders. Intricately frosted and oh so ‘kawaii’ to girls, cupcakes are being bought home to be instagrammed, then unwillingly eaten. Mini cupcakes though, which are a mini version of regular cupcakes which is already a mini version of cake, is pure madness that needs to stop.
6) Korean BBQ restaurants
The latest buzzword in Singapore’s Restaurant scene is Korean BBQ. Ssikkek aka 2D1N Soju Bang at Tanjong Pagar is doing so well, they don’t accept reservations and you have to come at 6pm to even get a chance to queue. Other than Korean BBQ buffets, non-buffet Korean BBQ restaurants are also doing very well like Superstar K (check out my review). The cuts of meat used are mostly of high quality, and authentic Korean restaurants always have complimentary side dishes. You have to try it to find out what the craze is all about.