Three’s not a crowd for Jazreel Low. The 52-year-old actress-turned-towkay runs a monopoly in Bishan Park. Taking over Western food joint The Cornerstone Café, ToriYard (which cost over $600,000 to set up) is a 129-seater yakitori restaurant and Jazreel’s third venture there in addition to Aramsa Spa and Canopy Garden Dining, the latter a Western café. All three are housed in their respective compounds located a stone’s throw apart from one another.
8 DAYS: Why yakitori?
JAZREEL LOW: Meat appeals to the general public. Asians like Asian food and yakitori is like [the Japanese version] of satay. Singaporeans also love barbecued food. This is barbecue in the park! And it also goes with the current protein diet trend.
Do you dine at ToriYard often?
Yes. I also eat at Canopy [in Bishan Park, which Jazreel also owns]. It has very good crabmeat pasta. But I usually eat hawker food. There’s a very good ban mian stall across the road. I won’t call myself a foodie, but I do enjoy the right kind of food.
As a restaurant owner, are you more critical of other F&B outlets you visit?
No. I enjoy going to different places and trying their food, but dining to me isn’t just about filling the stomach. Sometimes the food is so-so, but the ambience and atmosphere make up for it. It’s the whole experience. It’s something you appreciate when you’re in the business.
Do you cook?
No, I know what something should look and taste like, but I’ve no idea how to do any of it. I only know how to eat! I love duck, like the ones at London Fat Duck, Xihe Peking duck from Tung Lok and braised duck. I also like Peranakan food. I highly recommend Folklore at Beach Road. My husband is Peranakan, so I’ve tried a lot of Peranakan food. Even his aunties were quite impressed with the food there. For Japanese, Waku Ghin at MBS is really good.
You’ve run a bridal shop, spas and F&B outlets. Which is the most challenging?
The spa ’cos it’s labour intensive. There are manpower shortages in F&B as well, but it’s harder to train spa therapists. It’s something that nobody wants to do in Singapore ’cos it’s tough work. Expectations from customers are high, too. Singaporeans are very well travelled so you can’t fool them. I enjoyed the bridal business ’cos you’re surrounded by beautiful things. But I saw too many repeat customers! There was even a third-time customer — it was so depressing.