Tanglin actor Nat Ho's latest gig? Opening a bubble tea store

Besides managing a bento stall and opening a bubble tea chain, actor Nat Ho, who has a regular gig on Channel 5's drama series Tanglin, has also been working on his music career.
Besides managing a bento stall and opening a bubble tea chain, actor Nat Ho, who has a regular gig on Channel 5's drama series Tanglin, has also been working on his music career.PHOTO: BOBII FRUTII

The actor makes his second foray into the F&B industry, bringing Taiwanese bubble tea chain Bobii Frutii to Singapore


If there is one thing to know about Nat Ho, it is that he is usually never found in the same place for very long - he gets bored easily.

That is why the actor, who has a regular gig on Mediacorp TV Channel 5's long-running drama series Tanglin, is launching a bubble tea store.

He and a few partners are bringing Bobii Frutii, a popular Taiwanese chain with four outlets in Taiwan and China, to The Clementi Mall next month. Ho serves as Bobii Frutii Singapore's creative director and brand ambassador.

Bobii Frutii uses distinctive blue pearls, or "bobii" in Taiwanese slang, made with butterfly pea flowers and containing no artificial colouring, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. The dough is kneaded and rolled by hand in a factory in Taiwan, so the texture of the bobii, Ho says, is "almost like mua chee".

Cane sugar is used in the drinks, which have quirky names such as Mermaid's Tears and Don't Want To Grow Up. Prices range from $4.90 for a kiwi green tea with bobii to $6.90 for yogurt and milk blends.

This is the 33-year-old bachelor's second foray into the food and beverage industry. At the start of the year, he launched Love Bento, a stall offering healthy meals, at Shaw Tower's Wild Market foodcourt.

Besides diversifying from acting into business, he has also been working on his music career.

Since he has never been one to get comfortable in one place, he previously spent two years developing his performing skills in Taiwan, where he released a Mandarin mini-album in 2014.

In May, he debuted the single Snakes And Ladders. And in a few weeks, he will be jetting off to Melbourne to put the finishing touches on a new music video called Battleship. There are plans for more music releases next year.

There is no telling what pie he might choose to stick his finger into next - the only certainty is that it will be delicious and it will not be boring.

1 Why bubble tea?

Setting up Love Bento opened up some avenues for me and I have had more than one offer to go into other businesses. This was one of the earlier offers and I thought it was workable.

I do have expansion plans for Love Bento, but since this came up, I thought it could be nice to develop further in the F&B industry and see where it takes me.

As much as I love acting, it's good to have something else on the side. I'm into food in general and I'm into making money. Who isn't?

2 If you were a bubble tea, what flavour would you be?

Bobii Frutii's oolong milk tea with blue butterfly pea bobii, which is named Don't Want To Go To Work. That's the flavour I associate myself with the most.

3 Would you consider yourself a bubbly person?

I'm like bubbly stew. It looks bubbly on the surface, but actually it's really dark inside, not just pretty bubbles.

In entertainment, I've met a lot of people. I see a lot of good in people, but also a lot of bad. I think that adds a dimension to me.

4 What's one unexpected thing about going into business?

I didn't realise I would need to use so much creativity. You think it's all about figures and really boring dry stuff.

But you face different challenges every day and it's very much like being an artist: the show must go on.

You need to think of creative, out-of-the-box ways to deal with problems. For example, if your fridge dies, how do you solve the problem? And all this while, business is still going on.

5 Are you the sort of person who always feels compelled to have many ongoing endeavours?

Absolutely. I get bored easily. I cannot stay in one place for long.

I think it's just my personality type. Having to dip my fingers into a bit of everything is probably a result of me being a freelance agent.

If you're in a company, your routine is very predictable. You know there's always a job around the corner.

But when you're on your own, you need to line up your jobs. You need to live in the future.

6 Do you think you are a better businessman or actor?

I'm better at acting because I've been doing it for 13 years. But in terms of personality, I think I'm more of a businessman.

You see, even as an actor, you have to sell yourself. And as a businessman, you need to know how to spot opportunities and grab them.

Having said that, it's useful to be an actor who is in business - since I'm a known entity, people deem me trustworthy because I cannot cheat people and get away with it.

7 You man the Love Bento stall in between filming. Do you use your charm to persuade customers to buy your bentos?

All the time. That's what you need to do in sales, right? I just smile and be friendly - there's no secret.

My staff are always really amused whenever customers recognise me. But one really good tip I've learnt is to give your customer space. That way, there's less pressure and when you eventually engage them, they feel prepared to answer you.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

As the little engine that could.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2017, with the headline 'Nat Ho finds time for bubble tea'. Print Edition | Subscribe