As of yesterday, Gong Cha Singapore is no more. There were tears, memes and long queues at Gong Cha stores formed by fans who wanted a final swig of their favourite bubble tea.
The Singaporean company running the local Gong Cha franchise suddenly announced last week that it was giving up its franchise rights and converting all 80 outlets to LiHo, a bubble tea brand it created, serving newfangled drinks like Cheese Teas.
But take heart, there is still a Gong Cha outlet at Johor Bahru’s City Square Mall (about an hour’s drive or less from Singapore, if traffic conditions are good).
What's even better: prices of the Taiwanese bubble tea are lower there than when it was still available in Singapore. This writer travelled to the JB outlet over the weekend (this branch boasts seats) and gulped down two cups of Earl Grey Milk Tea with White Pearls and Pudding, which usually costs about SGD$4 for a medium-sized cup in Singapore, but only SGD$3 for a large one in JB.
The milk tea is just as aromatic and full-bodied, the white pearls equally firm and chewy, and the pudding seductively wobbly. Gong Cha’s usual range of fruit-based green teas, as well as toppings like ai yu jelly and black tapioca pearls are also on the menu.
The drive across the Causeway isn’t so bad if you make a day of it by having a sedap meal too (tip: Malaysian hotpot chain Arashi Shabu Shabu has an outlet in the same building serving tasty individual shabu shabu hotpots with a yummy milk broth) and stocking up on cheap toiletries/groceries in JB.
Just take note that Gong Cha in Malaysia practises an environmentally-friendly “No Plastic Bag Day” on Saturdays, so if you're swinging by on a weekend to tapow drinks for your squad, BYOB (bring your own bag) okay?
UPDATE (Jun 8): Gong Cha's parent company announced that the bubble tea chain will be making a comeback in Singapore. But it probably won't be for another few months. In the meantime, keep calm and drink Gong Cha in JB.
Gong Cha, Lot MK3-05, L3 City Square Mall, 108 Jalan Wong Ah Fook, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Open daily 10am-10pm. www.facebook.com/gongchamy