20 Ways To Wine And Dine Like Elvin Ng
Elvin ‘The Foodie’ Ng declares eating as one of the greatest pleasures in life.
The most I’ve eaten in one meal is…a heap of cream-based pasta on a huge zi char-sized plate that my friends cooked. But it was so good that I asked for second and third servings. They had to cook more for me. Another time, I celebrated the end of my exams by buying a whole durian cake and eating it all by myself. I also once ate three pints while watching TV one night. What’s so difficult? Just watch and eat lah.”
When I don’t have to watch my diet… I’m on a feeding frenzy, which happens almost every day. If I go to a hawker centre, I don’t just order, say, a bowl of laksa. I’ll add on two barbecued chicken wings, popiah and have a hot and cold drink. I don’t watch my diet. I’ll have to cut down on my food intake anyway in 10 years’ time when my metabolic rate slows down. By then, what can I eat besides grass? So I might as well enjoy myself now.
If I have no choice but to go on a diet… I eat less rice, drink Diet Coke and eat dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. I do this before a topless shoot. When I first started acting, I’d need about one month to prepare and work out more intensively for the shoot. But after seven years, my prep time now can be as little as three days.
When I’m hungry, the first thing I grab is… cream-based pasta, which is very filling. If I have no time, I’ll go for bread.
When I’m feeling fat… I usually just go to sleep and forget about it. If I don’t have that luxury, I’ll force myself to go to the gym. I’d exercise intensively for about three months before I get bored and slack off for a few months. Then when I start feeling guilty and fat, I’ll start gymming intensively again.
The last time I skipped a meal... was when I was working. There are times when I’m so busy the entire day, I forget to eat. I rush out of the house without time for breakfast, and when I have breaks from filming, I’m so tired I just want to rest instead of eat.
The best snack to munch on is… potato chips – and ice cream at home, or nachos topped with cheese at the cinema.
As a boy, my favourite place to eat was… a hawker centre in Jurong East St 32. It’s close to the shophouse where I used to live. It was my routine to tapow black carrot cake from there and eat it at home while I watched Captain Planet and The Smurfs cartoons. After school, I’d go there for chicken rice and wanton mee. The hawker centre is still around and the stall owners always say that they practically watched me grow up.
Now, my favourite place to eat is… Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre for the chwee kueh. I like to go back to old places because there’s something nostalgic about them. And I like cheap and good food.
If I want to eat in air-con comfort, I always rely on… Sushi Tei, Valentino’s or Ippudo. Pasta Fresca at Boat Quay is quite nice for riverside dining.
Whenever I want to impress someone on a date, dinner will usually be… whatever she likes. I’ll ask for her preference and choose that restaurant. Preferably somewhere comfortable where we can hear each other talk. It’s not so much about the food on the first date.
My most expensive meal was… a romantic dinner for two at Boathouse. The bill came up to about $600, but I wasn’t even half full. After that, we had to go to Lau Pa Sat for satay.
I’d rather die than eat… vegetables, especially squishy ones like brinjal or lady’s fingers.
The longest I’ve ever queued up for food is… one hour at Pancakes on the Rocks in Sydney. I’d never queued so long for food but I made an exception since I was on holiday with friends and heard that it’s a must-try. I generally don’t queue for food here. Sometimes I pretend to go to the front of the queue to ‘test the waters’ and see if the stall owner recognises me. If he does, I’ll ask how long I’d have to wait, and then they’ll usually let me jump the queue.
The thing that annoys me most about dining out is… when the tables are placed too close together and you can hear other people’s conversations, and vice versa. I like privacy.
The worst thing about restaurants here is… when there are no basic standards of service. I don’t expect extravagant service, but it’s annoying when they’re not trained in basic courteous service. I was at a Japanese curry restaurant in Shaw House once. Let’s not even talk about the green tea that took forever to come. We ordered sashimi for two and it came with a tiny portion of wasabi. When I asked for more wasabi, they said that I had to pay $2 for a small lump. If waiters are passionate about the food they serve, you can feel it. Maybe we don’t have time for that in our society where everything has to be efficient. When I was in Italy, even the way they recommend certain dishes is passionate, like they truly want you to enjoy your meal.
When the wait staff pays a lot of attention to me ’cos they recognise me… I’d feel privileged. But if I’m trying to have a personal conversation then I’d rather they not stand around and look at me ’cos I’d feel uncomfortable.
If the wait staff doesn’t recognise me… it’s fine. I don’t expect people to recognise me at all.
When I see people taking photos of their food… I get confused. I don’t understand why they do that. Even my mum is doing it. It’s annoying ’cos you can’t start eating the moment the food arrives, but have to wait for everyone to finish taking pictures. It’s good for the restaurants since people post the pictures online. I’ll only take photos of my food if it looks special. But right now, people post pictures of any kind of food.
My last meal would be… a combination of Italian, Japanese, French and Chinese food. I’d start with a rocket salad, Parma ham with melon, a lobster bisque and chawanmushi, followed by a bit of salmon sashimi and sushi, a small portion of pink sauce pasta and Peking duck. For dessert, I’ll have dark chocolate cake and the Chinese dessert of egg white with almond… and maybe an affogato. I’d drink red wine and coffee too. That would be perfect and I can die happy.