Top 10 desserts to beat the Singapore heat
1. Bubble tea
You'll see people toting sealed plastic cups of rich, milky, ice cold tea, some with little black tapioca "pearls" at the bottom. They drink it all up with extra large straws, including the pearls which add a chewy textural joy. There are many flavourings -- hazelnut milk, green apple green tea or ice blended blueberry, to name a few. Milk-free versions are also available. The name "bubble" refers not to the pearls, but to the frothy foam created while shaking the drink in a cocktail mixer, although these days many of the teas are pre-mixed and come without foam.
Bubble tea shops are everywhere. Common chains include Sweet Talk, Each-A-Cup and Koi Cafe.
2. Snow ice desserts
Like bubble tea, snow ice is also a Taiwanese invention. Incredibly soft, fluffy snow topped with fruity flavors like mango, grape and berries. There are also versions with green tea and adzuki beans, or milk with chocolate and banana. Some shops allow you to customise your own mix. The snow is so soft, you have to try it to believe it. It's the cotton candy equivalent of snow cones.
Try Summer Frost at 41 East Coast Road. Tel: +65 9744-1936
3. Young whole coconut
There is nothing more rustic and tropical than drinking juice right out of a coconut. A chilled coconut is even better, given our weather. Coconut juice is inherently cooling, and has properties that help boost immunity as well. Best of all, scrape out the sweet and tender young coconut flesh to eat in between thirst-quenching sips.
Ask for it at selected drink stalls in hawker centers and restaurants.
4. Ice kachang
You'll find a treasure trove of sweetened beans, fruit and jellies deep inside the mountain of shaved ice splashed with luridly colored syrups, evaporated milk and gula melaka (palm sugar). Sometimes it's a race to enjoy the dessert before it melts. A good way to avoid the brain freeze and a messy heap of slush? Share the dessert with a loved one!
This is probably one of Singapore's most ubiquitous desserts, but Annie's Peanut Ice Kachang has many fans. Find her upstairs at Block 6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza #02-36 Tanjong Pagar Market & Food Centre.
5. Grass jelly
Grass jelly is also known as "chin-chow" or immortal grass. Large black slabs of firmly chewy jelly is made from boiling a particular herb related to the mint. It is either shredded to be added to drinks or cut into chunks and served with syrup as a dessert. Grass jelly is not only refreshing but supposedly helps cool the body and aids digestion too.
You can try it at most hawker centers or food courts.
6. Mango sago pomelo
One of the most popular Chinese cold desserts is mango sago pomelo with ice. Shaved ice is doused with thick, creamy mango puree, sweet mango cubes and pomelo sacs that lend an interesting tinge of tangy bitterness. Sago (tapioca) beads add filling bulk and a chewy texture.
Mei Heong Yuen's version is extremely popular. Find the main outlet at 65-67 Temple Street. Tel: +65 6221 1156.
7. Frozen yogurt
Asians have really taken to frozen yogurt or fro-yo. And they've made even the non-fat versions almost as rich, firm and creamy as ice cream. You get your calcium, protein and gut-friendly probiotics all in one package. Sounds like a dessert that's actually good for you. Pile on toppings of your choice, be they fruit, nuts or granola.
Korean Red Mango feature no artificial coloring or preservatives. Locations are on the website.
8. Cold cheng tng
A sweet soup made with dried longans, barley, ginkgo nuts, lotus seeds and lily buds, all chosen for their beneficial value. Ingredients vary, so sometimes you'll find white fungus, agar or jelly strips, candied winter melon strips, red dates and dried persimmon slices as well. "Cheng tng" means clear soup, and is extremely popular, either hot or cold. Even the hot variety can help beat the heat and humidity, thanks to the brew’s cooling properties.
Practically every hawker center or food court will have a version, but the one at Stall 41, East Coast Lagoon Food Village has a stellar combination of ingredients.
9. Mobile ice cream
This is one of the most nostalgic ways ice cream is sold in Singapore. Peddlers go around on a tricycle with large umbrella and mobile freezers. They hand out homemade-style ice cream scoops in cups or cones. They also serve blocks of ice cream sandwiched between thin wafers or the strangely multi-colored bread.
There is one elderly gentleman who parks himself at Raffles Place (near Hitachi Towers on the MRT side) during lunchtime, and moves to Orchard (Takashimaya area) after 4pm. His ice cream tastes really home made, and you can specify any combination of corn, strawberry, chocolate and peanut flavors in your scoop.
10. Ice cream
Local ice cream parlors have sprung up everywhere, each concocting their own special flavors to entice increasingly sophisticated palates -- from salted caramel cheesecake to passion fruit with Japanese sake. There are also cold slab mix-ins at some joints.
Tom's Palette rotates over 80 flavors weekly in a tiny little shop. They are extremely friendly and generous in giving out free tastings. 100 Beach Road #01-25 Shaw Leisure Gallery. Tel: +65 6296-5239.
Have we missed your favorite? Tell us what and why in the comments!