This newly imported beverage franchise will leave a smile on your face19 June, 2010 by Chad
During the last visit to Orchard Road, Yan lead us to Ion Orchard as he wanted to show us an interesting new shop he encountered. It was an outlet of a Hong Kong based refreshment franchise known as Happy Lemon.
Happy Lemon serves an assortment of unique drink creations from an equally colorful shop at basement 4 of Ion Orchard. This outlet is the brand first foray outside of China. Based on the queue, we can presume that locals have taken a liking to the novel refreshments and cute theme.
At first sight, Happy Lemon looks like yet another Zhen Zhu Nai Cha (Pearl Milk Tea) shop.
Zhen Zhu Nai Cha is iced milk tea served in a sealed plastic cup with tapioca balls that are referred to as “pearls”. It’s an old invention from Taiwan that brought into Singapore decades ago. The shops could be easily identified at Pasar Malams (Night Markets) from the strange shaking machines they used to blend the drinks. Plastic dolls were often placed on the machines to gyrate with the movements.
Perhaps due to the vulgar movements, locals repressed all memory of the drink. So when new shops started selling the re-branded drink as “Bubble Tea” in the last decade Singaporeans were worked up into a frenzy. While you no longer find multiple stores on a single street, Zhen Zhu Nai Cha is still a popular refreshment. The new popularity means that locals often incorrectly refer to the drink now as Bubble Tea. You can only expect the stares and embarrassment when a colleague tried ordering some Bubble Tea in Taiwan recently.
Having missed the craze years ago, I could never understand why such shops like the Koi Cafe at Ang Mo Kio attract such long queues. But the variety of drinks served at Happy Lemon was certainly astounding.
Yan quickly placed an order for the Aromatic Milk Tea with Pudding and Red Bean, himself a guilty patron of the Ang Mo Kio stall.
The drinks were priced between $2.50 to $5. Not exactly cheap, but still hardly as bad as the damage you’ll incur from Starbucks. I had a hard time deciding if I should place an order and later what to. I decided to go with one of the shops signature drinks, the Yakult Lemon Smoothie. I was informed that I had to wait 15 minutes for them to blend the drink. Perhaps manually.
These cute plastic pieces are given out to customers to mark their orders. They were well made and add a nice touch of personality to the shop and is sure to amuse many. Having worked on branding and promotions in the past, MJ and I knew that these probably cost quite a bit to manufacture. While we waited for my drink, he suggested walking home with one. Perhaps if the drink didn’t cost $4.50.
The Yakult Lemon drink turned out to be quite pleasant. It wasn’t so much of a smoothie than a slush drink. The consistency was quite thick though and the familiar taste of Yakult was substantial. Bits of lemon skin were blended together and served a similar purpose to tapioca pearls, adding a new texture to munch on every one in a while.
Despite ordering the smaller serving though, I found myself getting a little full after a while. I did enjoy the drink up till about a quarter in though.
Overall, it was a refreshing and enjoyable experience and definitely a step up from what neighborhoods have to offer. But worth the high price point?
I would definitely like to sample some of the many other drinks the Happy Lemon has to offer to form a better opinion of the shop. Unfortunately, the cost is quite a put off.
As someone who doesn’t patronize the Ion either, I don’t see myself visiting the shop again in the near future. Not unless outlets start popping up elsewhere. With the atrocious rental at the Ion, we have yet to see whether Happy Lemon does well enough to support more branches around Singapore.
Happy Lemon’s homepage can but found through this link but the buggy flash site is unnavigable even if you do know Mandarin.
Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.