THE New Paper's food reviewer Yeoh Wee Teck doesn't pretend to be a food connoisseur.
'I can't dissect food like other critics. Mine's more a gut feel. To me, food is just good or no good,' he says.
The 39-year-old joined the tabloid in 2000 after working as a radio DJ for the then Radio Heart 91.3FM for 10 years.
He now coordinates the fashion and lifestyle stories for the paper's Guide pages.
The gregarious bachelor eats out as often as four times a week for work. His food reviews are published every Wednesday.
What impresses you most when you're reviewing food?
Is it cheap? Is it good? If yes, okay. I'm very Singaporean, lah. And I think that's what our readers really want to know.
I actually get intimidated by gourmet food. Once, I was at a dinner by some European chef. There was cold soup, cold appetiser and everything was very posh. All I could think of was, 'I just want a bowl of laksa.'
How tough are you as a reviewer?
I'm easily satisfied. My philosophy is, there's something good in everything. But if a place is bad, I won't write about it. I save all my nastiness for TV reviews. With restaurants, people's livelihood can be affected, and sometimes, the standard can improve after a few months. But with TV shows, no matter how badly you slime them, fans will still watch.
What's your biggest food weakness?
Soups and curries. Drinking soup is a habit cultivated by my Mum. Once you're the son of a Cantonese woman, you're forever drinking soup till the day you die. My favourite is salted fish bone soup with beancurd and pork.
I don't like spicy food. But when it comes to curries and Indian food, somehow my tongue becomes forgiving. Especially the creamy, northern Indian type, like butter chicken.
What's your favourite hawker centre?
The food centre at Bedok bus interchange has wonderful stalls. The lontong, curry noodles and prawn noodle stalls are very good. Especially the lontong stall, which is by the side of the ATM machines. It's got a nice haebi (dried shrimp) taste, it is not overly rich and the vegetables are not overcooked. You eat it with tempeh (fermented soya beans) which is magic.
Love any restaurants?
I like all the accessible and inexpensive ones like Din Tai Fung, which has good chicken soup and fried rice. I also love the chicken soup and noodles at Crystal Jade. Its glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf and porridge are the best.
I won't spend more than $50 for a meal, so the high tea buffet at mezza9 in Grand Hyatt hotel is good. The macaroons are excellent and the egg salad is beyond blissful. The steamboat buffet at M Hotel is good, too. Both charge over $30 per person.
What's your favourite sauce or dip?
The ginger and spring onion in oil dip which comes with chicken noodles in Crystal Jade or with Samsui chicken in Soup restaurant. It's making me hungry already.
What is your biggest dietary downfall?
I love deep-fried lard bits. It's sinful so I limit it to one tablespoon a month. But I cheat, lah.
Do you cook?
Sometimes. I tend to be adventurous. Once, I made a salad for a friend's party. Along the way, I thought it'd be nice to turn it into a soup. Then I added some curry powder and made it into a curry. In the end, no one ate it at the party because it looked so bizarre.
I hear your father ran a zhi char (restaurant-style food) stall in East Coast Park. What's one thing he always made for you?
He'd mash up soft-boiled eggs, add butter and pepper and put them in sandwiches. He never taught us the food he cooked because he didn't want my sister and me to enter the trade. Too much hard work.
What don't you eat?
I hate durian and bittergourd. I also can't eat mee goreng. When I was in Primary 1 or 2, I ate it once and threw up. Since then, the sight of it just makes me want to hurl.
How do you keep healthy with all this eating?
Look at me. Do I look healthy? I am greedy and lazy. The only exercise I do is run after my dog.
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