The sky is still dark as my legs, a while ago peacefully draped on my warm bed, make a reluctant slog towards Tsukiji’s tuna auction houses [Ed: the historic market has just been relocated across the river to Toyosu]. It is 5am. Striding more energetically before me is Singaporean sushi chef Ronnie Chia of Tatsuya, the ritzy restaurant at Park Hotel Orchard [now Goodwood Park Hotel] where dinner easily costs over $200 per person. Its patrons include Fann Wong, politicians, and Singapore’s “recession-proof” elite. The 42-year-old chef-owner, slight of frame, wiry and alarmingly candid, travels to the market twice a month. “I’m the only Singaporean sushi chef to actually come here and buy fish!” he remarks. Ronnie is married to a diminutive, pretty, but stand-offish Japanese lady (it’s his second marriage) — so he speaks the language fluently.

This article first appeared in issue #927, July 24, 2008.


 





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