Tag Archive | Sumiko Tan

Lohei coming out of my ears

Sumiko Tan might have had sharksfin coming out of her ears. I’ve never been that fortunate, pre or current anti-sharksfin days. That’s another story.

But I could claim that my celebrations this Chinese New Year saw lo-hei or yusheng or yee sang coming out of my ears — contrary to my original expectations.

I had expected not to be able to indulge as much as in past years, given the fact that my mother isn’t supposed to drink any more due to falls and other health reasons. As I never ordered yusheng or bought takeaway myself if I’m not allowed to add a generous dose of brandy or vodka to the raw fish, it had seemed likely that little or no yusheng would pass my lips this year.

While I abstained from putting out money for yusheng, others who ate with me weren’t as abstemious, starting from the second day of CNY at my sister’s where we always eat our kai-nian fan. A nephew got a rough and ready portion from a hawker in Commonwealth Avenue to complement the home cooked meal. It was good, even if at $18 it was really cheap — for yusheng!

This was followed a few days later — the 7th day of CNY and Ren day — when a brother bought vegetarian yusheng from a temple in Punggol to add to the home cooked dishes at mum’s. Her Picky cooked for the visiting families who are related in one way or another to Tan Yeow Joo, my late grandfather.

Alas, because these relatives all arrived at different times and fell upon the main meal immediately, we had to postpone the lo-hei to dessert time, by when I had forgotten to take a picture! 🙄

Still, I made up for it with subsequent lo-heis I took part in, starting with the grand affair of the Association of Banks in Singapore where for almost 3 hours on Feb 2, the Marina Mandarin’s ballroom saw more bankers per metre than at Raffles Place, Shenton Way and Marina Bay Financial Centre put together.

The same night at chair yoga at Kampung Glam Community Club, the two sifus threw a mini lohei for the class apres yoga and, because some students are vegetarians, the yusheng –made from a recipe by one of the sifu’s mum — was also luxuriously vegetarian, with vegetarian abalone contributed by moi. I got them from Esther boss of my fav vegetarian restauant, Create Healthy Lifestyle at Fortune Centre.

The next day happened to be the monthly lunch group’s pig-out and this time we did it at Jumbo at Dempsey. It was good but I wasn’t done yet.

On Saturday, I returned to the old mansion (now newly restored) for my first invite for an Open House there. It’s been 10 years since I celebrated Chinese New Year with that family at the Old Mansion. How things have changed!

And last but not least, last night I enjoyed a smashing 8-course vegetarian dinner, complete with yusheng and cold appetisers at New Fut Kai at 282 Jalan Besar hosted by brother SY. The restaurant had relocated from Kitchener Road and tho the new place was smaller, the food was just as good. And needless to say, the place was packed!

1st lo-hei of year at sister's home

food at my home prior to dessert lo-hei

el grand one at Marina Mandarin

tossing equally grand 😀


made with love by the sifus of Kg Glam

the yoga toss for luck


one of my fake abalones



Jumbo's yusheng


the Grand Mansion's version of tossing


New Fut Kai's vegetarian yusheng


the extended family tossing together


...after which dinner began with these sumptuous cold appetisers


Cheap & Good?? Get real!

Chic cheap...

Chic cheap...

Sumiko Tan’s column about money and frugality was part of yesterday’s Sunday Times (Aug 10) splash on “Cheap n Good”.

Her grouse abt her mother trying to squeeze every last blob out of a tooth-paste tube echoed my own efforts in a column years ago and which prompted a colleague Irene Hoe to present me with a tooth-paste squeezer which promised to enable me to get out every last blob of paste, but didn’t deliver!

Like Irene Hoe’s tooth-paste squeezer, Suntimes “good and cheap” effort failed to deliver. It’s generally a compilation of middle to upper middle income earners twittering abt getting better value for money for “good to have stuff” like going to a spa but didn’t really deal with what one could do if one was really and truly broke and had to stretch $330per month to cover rent, utilities and food.  

So it was another Marie Antoinette moment: no bread? Why not eat a smaller piece of cake to save money? 

Some of the advice given appears sound on the surface, and some suggests that those at the receiving end might be IQ-challenged to need to be given such no-brainer info.

Let me deal with just the bits which appear sound: eating in rather than eating out, healthier and cheaper etc.

I can’t comment on the “healthier” claim since one man/woman’s home cooking could be another’s one-way ticket to a hospital. But cheaper?

Well yes, if you compare ingredient with ingredient, tho I’m not sure whether that’s even true when it comes to caviar, foie gras etc. I’m sure when Gunther goes to Indo Guna or wherever to get the high-end stuff, he’ll be able to get it more cost effectively than if Auntie here goes to Jasons and tries to buy a smidgeon, enough for the family.

And don’t let’s talk high-end stuff. Just low to mid end. Those who opt to eat in have to buy or stock up ingredients for meals, besides having to also stock up on condiments, oil, herbs and so on. Then there’s the gas or electricity bill as well as the water and washing liquid bills to take care of, because eating at home means cleaning the raw ingredients be4hand and washing up afterwards. 

And if you don’t buy the raw stuff for every meal as it is about to be cooked, then there’s the cleaning and tidying up to be done be4 putting the goods away in the fridge till cooking time. (I’ve never known anyone who goes to wet maket or even supermarket and puts what he/she buys straight into the fridge!)

So, those who propose eating at home to save money are simplistic to say the least, as I don’t think they have factored in these “hidden” and not so hidden costs. Add to that the time that’s required to organise the buying, cooking, storing and cleaning up, and what savings are there to speak of?

Unless one takes the view that with the time taken up fussing over one’s daily meals, one won’t have too much time left to hanker after the cinema, the pub, shopping, holidays etc and so won’t miss not having the money to do those things, or even if there’s money, one won’t have the spare time and the money that would otherwise have been frittered away is saved!

One last word on that famous Mediacorp actress who advised on saving money by cutting out waste: her method is to instruct her maid to cook meals that are just enough for the family.

She should patent her method because I think she would find many takers. Myself, I’ve not known of one meal that’s cooked at home that’s exactly enough: more often than not, there’s something left over or someone eats slightly less of this or that dish.

My solution for such inexactness is to store the leftover for another meal or force/coax everyone to eat a little bit more to clear the table. When the food is a little short, we make up with fruit, biscuits or a hot milo or horlick.

Eat & Meet

Singapore is a small place and if running into celebreties is your kind of thing, then there’s no better place to do it than here.

To double or even treble your already good odds is to go to some of our so-called exclusive clubs. I’m told that SICC (Singapore Island and Country Club) is a sure bet.

I won’t know as I’m not a member and only get to go there by invitation — and that’s very rare. Don’t move with the moneyed classes, boo-hoo.

However I can vouch for the Tanglin Club and the Singapore Cricket Club. You see Members of Parliament, judges, corporate big wigs, Cabinet Ministers and many heiresses who can have as much as $1billion each to their account, wandering quite unassumingly in and out of these clubs. They patronise the dining facilities, even tho one would imagine they can afford far better than the small-change (to this coterie of members) that club restaurants charge with their somewhat hoi-polloi ambience and service.

Yet even beyond clubs, one gets to run into many “celebs”, as has been the case for me — in mid-range restaurants.

I was at Putien Restaurant in Kitchener Road with mum, sis and maid just the day be4 mum went for her big “op” on July 2. It was a place she asked to be taken to, not because it served great food (it was the venue for one of the extended family’s Chinese New Year dinners) but because she just loves to point out how unauthentic food served at the recent proliferation of “Putein” restaurants is.

Not that she’s a native of Putien herself but because my father was from there, as were his parents and mum’s idea of genuine Putien food is based on recollections of what her MIL (my grandmother) used to cook.

I’m no judge either but Putien R’s menu doesn’t seem outstandingly Putien (or Hinghua as the place used to be known): lichi pork? (yes, Putien is famous for its lichi but we ate it as fruit rather than accompaniment in a savoury dish!) And asparagus in garlic sauce? It cld have been any nationality’s dish.

Still, this post isn’t to quibble about the authencity or otherwise of Putien’s menu but to share who one gets to see there.

On the day of our lunch, I thought I heard a familiar voice behind me n lo and behold no less than the famous chiclit columnist Sumiko Tan was sitting at a table with people who appeared to be colleagues, as I recognised one of them by his thick black-rim glasses that appears as a byline pix. Can’t remember his name tho.

At two nearby tables, it looked like some PR girl (for the restaurant?) was hosting some types of journalists, perhaps a mixture of MSM and web? Didn’t recognise any of them, so more likely to be bloggers than MSM like Sumiko.

Digi cams were hard at work, taking pix of the food as well as the guests (ie one another): dead give-aways that they were rank amateurs. I can’t imagine any card-carrying MSM wld be so SPL (san pa lo) as to want to photograph one another!

Another good place to celeb-spot is Japanese restaurant Ichiban Boshi with its Kuriya fish market, both at Great World City. I’ve seen ex-Minister of Manpower and current Education Minister Ng Eng Hen there no fewer than three times!