Singapore Adventure

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Lemon Juice, Ah?
by venitha

"Aaaannhhh!" With a wincing pucker, Jim hands my drink back to me.

"I warned you it was sour. I love it." I take a big noisy slurp of the lemon juice, then rattle the ice cheerily in the cup.

Jim nods slowly, then licks his teeth with a grimace. "I can see that if you like sour, that would be the case, yes."

"That bad, huh? Would you like something else? Say... sugar cane juice?" The Super Sweet Wonder Twin of lemon juice's Super Sour, sugar cane juice is decidedly not a favorite. And letting such Wonder Twin powers activate in your stomach could be lethal.

"No, thanks, I think I'm done."


I discovered the pleasures of Singapore's tangy lemon juice the last time Rohit was in town. At Newton Hawker Centre, he asked for lemonade, and like the doting auntie I am...

"Two lemonades, please."

"Lemon juice, ah?" the woman asked.

"Yeah, whatever."

Fresh-squeezed lemon juice and water and ice - note no sugar - is what we got. My first thirsty slug left my jaw tightly clenched in sour shock. No sugar? That's just not... American! Well, I know, this isn't America. No, I am reminded every frickin' second of every frickin' day that this isn't America, but... yum! I really like it!

Rohit, a child who doesn't even like chocolate - Good Lord, Deepali, is he serious? That's just not... American. Well, I know, he isn't American, but chocolate?!? - didn't bat an eye, though he let me drink most of his lemon juice and wasted no time hitting Baba up for the much cooler delivery system, if much lamer flavor, of coconut juice.


So I've been happily puckering and clenching away as I perform a grand taste test on the lemon juices of the many juice bars in my neighborhood. As there appear to be no secret ingredients, the true competition is just in the shops. My favorite, of course, is the most expensive, but has a quality that I've grown to appreciate in Singapore: I can see the entire kitchen and watch them make the juice. Clean city, my... um, yeah.

At my least favorite shop, a scary woman screeches my order in a Chinese accent to an ogre caged behind a very high wall, and in less than a minute, Shrek's somehow squeezed out my juice. I can clearly make out lemon and juice among all the nasal twangs of Flo's short order. This is followed by some other words, which, surprisingly, are not ang moh, and my apparently-quite-complicated order is finished up with the same sound Jim made when he first tasted the lemon juice: Aaaannhhh!

Somewhere in between these two shops, both geographically and on my preference list, is the Tropicana, with its convenient location and its chaotically colorful Carmen Miranda fruit cooler, but its stomach-unsettling milkshake menu, where, nestled nefariously among the innocent banana and the harmless papaya, are the Dastardly Duo, corn milk and carrot milk, and that Evil Genius at the heart of every olfactory crime in our , durian milk.

Super Sour and Super Sweet have their work cut out for them. Wonder Twin powers... Activate!