Long queues for soft-serve ice cream

A range of Mini Beanies. -- PHOTO: MR BEAN
A range of Mini Beanies. -- PHOTO: MR BEAN
Mr Andy Lee. -- PHOTO: RUDY WONG
Mr Andy Lee. -- PHOTO: RUDY WONG
Tai Parfait Matcha and Azuki. -- PHOTO: TAI PARFAIT
Tai Parfait Matcha and Azuki. -- PHOTO: TAI PARFAIT
Sanum. -- PHOTO: LLAO LLAO
Sanum. -- PHOTO: LLAO LLAO
Fans of Honey Creme (above) taking selfies with and photos of their ice cream. -- PHOTO: EUNICE QUEK
Fans of Honey Creme (above) taking selfies with and photos of their ice cream. -- PHOTO: EUNICE QUEK

Frozen yogurt and ice creams are heating up the dessert scene

Cold desserts are hot, so hot that they are worth queuing for, with mall security making sure the lines are orderly.

The long queues are for soft- serve ice cream topped with honeycomb from Taiwanese brand Honey Creme at 313@Somerset. When it opened last Sunday, customers had to wait in line for two hours.

Now, the wait is shorter, about 15 to 20 minutes, but it still seems similar to queues for a K-pop meet-and-greet session, complete with people taking selfies with the subject in question - ice cream in this case.

It would have been hard to miss photographs on Facebook and Instagram of hands clutching cups of Honey Creme's soft serve, or frozen yogurt with chocolate sauce from the equally popular Llao Llao (say yao yao).

The Spanish froyo brand has been gaining ground since it opened in Marina Square more than a year ago, with queues snaking around the outlets at the 313@Somerset and Plaza Singapura branches.

The Llao Llao shops here are run by various franchise owners.

Ms Sherry Lee, 32, who brought in the Honey Creme franchise from Taiwan, says she used to eat it daily after discovering it five months ago.

The brand, started by a couple of Taiwanese and Korean friends in March, is also available in Hong Kong and Macau. The 400 sq ft outlet at 313@Somerset is the first to have seating space for 18 diners.

The other overseas outlets are half the size and only do takeaways.

She says: "Diners are receptive to trends and it is a competitive scene for quality offerings and ingredients.

"The queues for Honey Creme in Taiwan were also crazy and I wanted to be the first to bring it into Singapore."

The interior designer is the co-founder and managing director of her new food and beverage company, New Majestic Investment. She is looking to bring in more dessert concepts and will expand Honey Creme here and in the region.

Three other dessert places that sell ice cream are also attracting crowds.

But more than just soft serve, they focus on Japanese style pancakes.

Two of them - Tai Parfait and Oyoge Taiyaki - serve taiyaki - fish-shaped pancakes with filling, while Mr Bean Singapore's Mini Beanies are shaped like its mascot and come with dips and toppings.

Four-month-old Tai Parfait at Bugis Junction was established in Japan four years ago.

It serves taiyaki with a filling of choice, topped with fresh cream, ice cream and fruit.

Food and beverage company Dining Innovation SG, which owns Sumire Yakitori House in Bugis Junction, brought it in.

Its managing director, Mr Shinichiro Matsufuji, 37, says the best-selling item is the taiyaki with Hokkaido soft serve ice cream, with about 100 pieces sold a day.

The second shop opened at VivoCity last Thursday, and the third one opens at Plaza Singapura next month.

Mr Andy Lee, 32, owner of year-old Oyoge Taiyaki at New Bridge Road, also hopes to expand the business and already has plans for more flavours and concepts.

His version of taiyaki is a chewy one that has the texture of mochi or chewy rice cake, instead of the usual waffle-like brown crust. The outlet sells an average of 1,200 taiyaki a week.

In response to customer demand, he also introduced soft serve ice cream in July. With a bigger outlet, he hopes to offer more ice cream and taiyaki flavours, as well as mochi waffles with ice cream.

He says: "We wanted to provide a new way to enjoy taiyaki, not only with the mochi batter, but with interesting flavours for the filling.

"I think we will see more upmarket dessert cafes specialising in handmade fine desserts, something which I am considering too."

Mr Bean Singapore is also looking to open more cafes, with more seating and a wider menu of desserts.

Its newest offering is called Mini Beanies. These small cakes come with a choice of dips and toppings.

Ms Venus Ang, 34, head of branding for Mr Bean, says: "The dessert scene in Singapore has been very exciting. Singaporeans are always keen to try new products and there's always space for desserts."

Ms Loh Jia Hui and her friends made their way to Honey Creme at 313@Somerset last week to try the soft- serve ice cream. They were busy taking selfies with their desserts and trying one another's ice cream.

There is a Llao Llao outlet in the same mall and the 20-year-old physiotherapy student at Nanyang Polytechnic has tried both. She says she will return to the one that has the shorter queue.

She says: "The ice cream at Honey Creme is not too sweet, but I think the portion is a bit small. The portion of frozen yogurt at Llao Llao is bigger.

"But Honey Creme's toppings are unique, you don't see honeycomb or cotton candy on other ice cream."

Teacher Chian Yuan Lin, 24, who has tried Llao Llao before Honey Creme, says: "At both outlets, I think the quality and serving portions are worth the price.

"Both are also too much for me to finish. It is worth the wait for the desserts.

euniceq@sph.com.sg


HONEY CREME

What: The hype around this week-old Taiwanese brand of soft-serve ice cream is unlikely to die down soon, so be prepared to queue for at least 20 minutes.

The ice cream, churned in-house, is made with Australian milk and cream. However, it is the toppings that make the difference and these range from organic cotton candy to popcorn. Another unique one is honeycomb, which is imported from Taiwan and has a hint of longan, as the bees gather nectar from longan trees.

Prices for an ice cream plus topping start at $4.60.

Where: 313@Somerset, 313 Orchard Road, 01-37 (formerly Gongcha, next to taxi stand), open: 11am to 10pm daily

Info: Call 6884-8468 or go to www.facebook.com/honeycremesg

LLAO LLAO

What: Also attracting long queues is Spanish frozen yogurt brand Llao Llao (say yao yao) which has become very popular since it opened last year at Marina Square.

Its other outlets at 313@Somerset and Plaza Singapura are also packed.

Prices start at $2.50 for a Petitllao to $4.90 for a bigger Granillao.

Popular item Sanum ($6.50) is a generous serving of yogurt, fresh fruit and choice of a crunch and a sauce. There are also smoothies topped with frozen yogurt (from $5.90).

Where: Outlets include 313@Somerset, 313 Orchard Road, B3-55; Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road, 01-22A; Singapore Polytechnic, Polytechnic Food Court 3; and Marina Square, Marina Link, B1-04, open: various opening hours

Info: www.facebook.com/llaollaoSingapore

TAI PARFAIT

What: This is two desserts in one - Japanese fish-shaped taiyaki pancakes meet ice cream and fruit toppings.

The taiyaki ($2.20 a piece) is made with almond powder and comes filled with a choice of azuki (red bean), matcha, custard, or chocolate. The ice cream goes into the mouth of the fish.

Flavours include the best-selling Tai Parfait Hokkaido Soft Ice Cream (from $5.80), Tai Parfait Banana Chocolate (from $4.50), and Tai Parfait Matcha and Azuki (from $5).

Where: Bugis Junction, 200 Victoria Street, B1-03A and VivoCity, 1 Harbour- Front Walk, B2-K2, open: 11am to 10pm daily

Info: Call 6333-1500 or go to www.tai-parfait.com.sg

OYOGE TAIYAKI

What: This is not just another taiyaki (Japanese fish-shaped pancake) store.

The taiyaki made at this store opened by Mr Andy Lee has a mochi-like dough for a chewy texture. A blend of five flours are used for the dough, one of them being glutinous rice flour used to make mochi. This gives the taiyaki a white skin, and it can be eaten warm or cold as a dessert.

Prices start from $2.50 a piece, with flavours such as azuki beans, matcha, black sesame and strawberry fromage.

Look out for upcoming seasonal flavours such as roasted chestnut.

Japanese soft serve ice cream ($3) is also available in flavours such as green tea and Japanese sweet potato.

Where: 191 New Bridge Road, open: noon to 9pm (Monday to Thursday), 10.30am to 10pm (Friday to Sunday)

Info: Call 9099-0318 or go to www.oyogetaiyaki.com

MR BEAN SINGAPORE

What: The 19-year-old business, popular for its Japanese pancakes and soya bean drinks, launched a range of Mini Beanies in August, with the opening of its cafe in Jurong Point.

The mini pancakes, shaped like the Mr Bean mascot, come with a variety of sweet and savoury dips such as hazelnut chocolate sauce and chilli crab sauce.

Toppings include Oreo and roasted buckwheat puffs. They cost $2.90 for eight pieces and $3.50 for 12.

Other dessert options (at selected cafes including Bedok Mall, Jurong Point and Toa Payoh Hub) include Pearly Mango Paradise, which is soya pudding with mango, pearls and pomelo.

Where: Jurong Point, 63 Jurong West Central 3, 03-11, open: 10am to 10pm daily

Info: www.facebook.com/MrBeanSingapore