Tuk Tuk Cha is one of the most popular Thai Milk Tea kiosk in Singapore, with 10 outlets opened at various shopping malls.
The flagship was located at Suntec City basement, but this (along with Novena branch) have been taken over and converted to a similar “Siamese Cat” branding.
The rest (Raffles City, Sun Plaza, Tampines 1, Junction 8, Jurong Point, 313@Somerset, Waterway Point, NEX, Hillion Mall, Bugis Junction, Harbourfront Centre oulets) remains as Tuk Tuk Cha.
The Thai Iced Milk Tea wave started in Singapore about 2 years back, and the brand opened in good timing.
It has quite a comprehensive menu from mains (noodles) to desserts (Shibuya Toast) to drinks (Thai Milk Tea).
Opened by the folks behind Bedok Point $1 Thai Boat Noodle, the family-oriented dine-in restaurant diversified to hipster café style Cha-Yen takeaway shops.
The formula worked. Right place, right time.
Most of the shops are categorised by the iconic Thai-transport tuk tuk parked in house, sometimes modified into a long communal table for dine-in.
During its opening days, I saw many people taking #OOTD shots with it and uploaded on social media (Perhaps wanting their friends to believe that they were in Thailand. Just kidding.)
The brand has diversified to sell a range of drinks from Thai Milk Tea, Thai Green Milk Tea, Thai Black Coffee, Matcha Latte, Homemade Lemongrass, Homemade Roselle, and Hojicha.
Tuk Tuk Cha’s signature drink was the Thai Milk Tea (Cha-Yen) that came in both hot ($1.70) and cold ($3 for regular, $3.50 for large).
Toppings such as pearl, coconut jelly, caramel jelly and mango pearls were available at an additional $0.50. I tried both with and without toppings and preferred the latter for a more unadulterated taste.
The Thai Milk Tea had a distinct tea scent and not overly sweet.
During the initial days, the subtle bitterness in the tea did not surface and texture wasn’t rich enough to leave an impression. A friend commented “Taste like Teh-O leh”.
When they opened their first shop, I previously commented they can make slight adjustment to their iconic Thai Milk Tea, and probably include a Shibuya Toast instead.
After months of refinement, I think Tuk Tuk Cha managed to strike a balance between the Thai tea flavour and what consumers in Singapore want – generally more milky, less sweet, less icy.
Another signature drink was the Thai Green Milk Tea ($3.00 for regular, $3.50 for a large cup). I actually preferred this to the Thai Milk Tea as it was richer, smoother and sweeter.
Wait. Hojicha for $4.80?
Not related to Thai, but Japanese teas are popular in Bangkok. The owners imported the ingredients from Japan and it was distinctively fragrant, with strong tea savour, and less milkiness than what some commercial coffee chains offer.
Mango Stick Rice ($6), Golden Toast ($3 – $3.80) and savory toast such as Tom Yam Toast ($2.50) are also available.
Many would be familiar with After You’s thick Shibuya Toast. Tuk Tuk Cha’s attempts a copy, sans the maple syrup and ice cream.
I loved the golden brown crispy toast that was crunchy.
Their homemade pandan kaya dip was worth a mention, with distinct coconut taste that reminded us of the old- school traditional morning breakfast at our coffee-shops.
To keep up with the trends, Tuk Tuk Cha has also introduced Cheese Thai Milk Tea. Also included are Green Milk Tea, Milk Coffee, Black Tea, and Black Coffee.
Yeah, or Yucks?
The Cheese Thai Milk Tea ($3.60 for regular, $4.20 for large) had that tinge of saltiness that would need some getting use to. I may prefer to drink the Thai Milk Tea as it is without the fanciness.
Overall, I liked the Green Thai Milk Tea with cheese toppings best due to the jasmine fragrance.
Tuk Tuk Cha branches:
– Sun Plaza #01-15
– Raffles City #B2-16 (Near to escalator to B2 to Esplanade MRT)
– Tampines 1 #B1-K2 (Beside Ya Kun Toast)
– Bishan Junction 8 #02-20A/21 (Opposite Regina)
– Jurong Point #K9/K10 (Between JP1 and JP2)
– 313@Somerset #B3-54
– Waterway Point #B1-K8 (B1, open space)
– NEX #02-12
– Hillion Mall #01-03/04
– Bugis Junction #M01-K1
– Harbourfront Centre #02-01/02
* Written by Daniel’s Food Diary Cafe Correspondent Nicholas Tan. Otherwise known as @stormscape, you can find photos of his cafe adventures on Instagram.