Tanglin star Nat Ho is busy scooping pearls into a plastic cup. He then deftly pours in fresh milk, and whisks some matcha powder with water into a froth. He crowns the cup with the earthy green concoction and slides the beautifully layered bubble tea onto the counter like a pro.
It’s not a scene out of a drama though; Nat really is a legit F&B towkay — he's the co-owner of franchised Taiwanese bubble tea chain Bobii Frutii (‘bobii’ is Taiwanese slang for tapioca pearls; frutii alludes to the fruits added to many of the drinks here), and the upcoming Thai cheese toast joint Say Chiizu. And we're here for a preview look at the soon-to-be-opened bubble tea store.
And before all this, he also opened bento stall Love Bento at the Shaw Towers food enclave Wild Market. “2017 has been really, really busy, and I hope 2018 will be good too,” he tells us with a laugh.
The first local Bobii Frutii kiosk will open next week (Jan 10) at Clementi Mall. It shares its space with the Say Chiizu concept, which will launch on Jan 18. Bobii Frutii is popular for its attractive Insta-worthy drinks, which boast colourful ‘layers’ of tea, milk, pearls and blended ice.
The ‘bobii’ here comes in three flavours: Original, Brown Sugar and Butterfly Pea, all handmade in a factory in Taiwan before being freeze-dried and sent to Singapore.
Nat had teamed up with some of his F&B friends to set up shop. Sadly, you probably won’t get to sip on bubble tea personally made by him; his role in this biz is “ambassador and creative director”, and he's in charge of marketing the brand.
But the 33-year-old is still very hands-on. We’re impressed by his extensive knowledge of the products and how he answered our questions about the drinks confidently.
He travelled to Taiwan to survey the tea supplier’s farm and learn how to make Bobii Frutii’s drinks. Much effort? You bet.
As for whether Bobii Frutii will become a major player in Singapore’s bubble tea scene, Nat says he and his team are working on it. “We’re getting this first outlet on track first,” says. “But we have already secured a space at Suntec City to open a dine-in cafe that will also serve small bites, and we hope to open it in the first quarter of this year.”
Bobii Frutii has four other outlets in its native Taiwan and in China.
THE LOOK: The wood-bedecked, open-concept takeaway kiosk sits in the middle of the mall’s pedestrian walkway. When we dropped by, it was still under renovation and was hoarded up.
But we got a sneak peek and saw that it’s divided into two ‘spaces’: one side housing Bobii Frutii and the other, Say Chiizu. The ‘teatenders’ here are local, all trained by a Bobii Frutii trainer who flew in from Taiwan.
There are 37 drinks to choose from here, and the menu is divided into four categories — Tea/Au Lait (which means “served with milk” in French), Ice Blend, Matcha and Fruit Tea. Scroll through the photo gallery above for our review of some of the signature drinks.
BOTTOM LINE: The bubble teas here are pricier than your average cup from Koi or Gong Cha, but they’re also much prettier and will look fabulous on your Instagram feed. Also, they taste more than decent. We hope Nat opens more outlets in less ulu locations soon.
Bobii Frutii opens 10 Jan at #04-K4 Clementi Mall, 3155 Commonwealth Ave West, S129588. Open daily 10am-10pm. www.bobiifrutii.com.sg.