Shiok Ah Ccino

Shiok Ah Ccino

August 9th is National Day in Singapore, and it’s always accompanied by massive displays of pride in the achievements of this tiny city state. And that covers not just the National Day Parade or the Singapore flag flying proudly from most residential windows, but special edition Singapore-themed items ranging from red and white T shirts to decorated cakes.

Somewhere in between comes the Shiok Ah Ccino, a remarkable, and Singapore exclusive, offering from Starbucks. Drawing on several of those local delicacies familiar in kopi tiams around the island, they have managed to create a drink that perfectly blends the Starbucks signature frappuccino with tastes that are completely Singaporean.

So the regular frappucino is blended with and the whipped cream topped by the thick sweetness of gula melaka, which is a palm sugar syrup.  The main ingredient, however, is a large scoop of coffee jelly shreds, which are an interesting take on that slightly bitter tasting local favourite which goes by the English name of ‘grass jelly’ even though it is black rather than green in colour. There’s crunchy coconut on top as the finishing touch.

Shiok, incidentally, is the local way of saying that something is really good.

It took me a couple of days to work up to tasting this one, and I did not manage to drink it all, but it was actually quite nice, despite the ‘exclusive’ price of S$7.90 for the smallest cup. Of course it helps that I really like gula melaka… What defeated me in the end was the coffee jelly, since there was so much of it that I could not get a mouthful of the drink itself without several strands sliding up the straw, and I found that horribly disconcerting.

Still, it is clearly super popular with the locals and it’s a great and rather flattering idea from Starbucks. I look forward to seeing if it reappears next year.

‘Healthy’ Chocolate

Category : Food

viet choc 1 viet choc 2 viet choc 3

For all the joys of foreign travel, there are times when only your favourite brand will do. But when you then discover some wonderful local treat as well, it’s a real bonus!

This was on the counter by the till in Starbucks, Hanoi, and it tickled me so much I bought several more as gifts. For a start, it was nice to see a big international company championing something produced in-country (and who knew they grew cocoa beans in Vietnam?)

What I really enjoyed, however, was the description on the back: ‘brown chocolate will provide just enough energy but ample nutrients consumed as an alternative meal for busy persons, school kids, students, office workers, sport man and gym exercisers, women on diet, old people’.

So – if you’re trying to lose weight, eat this chocolate bar instead of lunch! It’s a tempting suggestion, and the chocolate itself is very nice, with a mild taste and creamy texture. And at only 224 calories a bar, I suppose it could work as part of a calorie counted diet, so long as that really was all you had to eat and you topped up with fruit and vegetables later.

With all the amazing street food on offer in Hanoi, relying on this for lunch was never going to happen, but I certainly enjoyed the idea…