Jack & Rai swear by Shah Alam Restaurant for quick prata and teh
Celebrity Chow with pop-rock duo Jack & Rai
If you're a fan of local pop-rock duo Jack & Rai, chances are you'll spot them at Shah Alam Restaurant on Circular Road.
"This is our favourite mamak place. We're here at least a few times a week, because it's close to our recording studio, my gym and our restaurant The Flying Squirrel," Rai Kannu, 37, told M.
"Shah Alam is a convenient place for a quick prata or teh when we need a break."
Jack & Rai, who have been making music together since 2002, performed for the first time at the President's Star Charity show this year on Sunday. They sang alongside local singer Aisyah Aziz, accompanied by cajon drummers from Lighthouse School.
They are also planning to release their second album next year, a follow-up to their 2008 debut In Stores Now!.
For lunch, Jack Ho, 38, ordered Maggi mee goreng, while Kannu went for plaster prata (prata with a sunny side up egg).
The two also shared soup kambing (mutton soup) and washed down their meal with iced lime juice to beat the heat.
"The boss at Shah Alam knows us very well since we're regulars. He also remembers me as the Chinese boy who sang the Tamil song at the National Day Parade once," said Ho.
"Jack is something of a prata connoisseur," added Kannu. "If he has a prata that's no good or not made fresh, he'll not go back to that place again. But Shah Alam serves consistently good prata."
They rarely order the same dish, as they love to try what the other is eating. Sure enough, they regularly tucked into each other's food while chatting with M.
Do you have similar tastes in food?
HO: Yes, I would say so. We both love Japanese food, for example. But we do order different things for variety's sake.
KANNU: When we go out for zi char, Jack always orders the meat, and I'll be the one to say, "Hey, we need some veggies!"
Can you name what food the other dislikes?
HO: For Rai, it's the vegetable he hates the most... bittergourd!
KANNU: Jack doesn't really like vegetables, and he especially dislikes petai beans. His wife and I love sambal petai, but he can't stand it.
What's it like to own your own Japanese restaurant, The Flying Squirrel, at Amoy Street?
HO: We always joke that our job is to go in there and finish the beer and sake! (laughs) Seriously though, it's been open for two and a half years now, and we're really happy with how it's going.
KANNU: Jack's wife Angelina (Leong) manages the place, so she's the boss. We really love learning about the F&B business and managing people. Our signature dishes are our TFS Chirashi (raw seafood with rice), TFS Signature Maki (assorted sushi) and Crunchy Unagi (eel).
HO: After the President's Star Charity show, we're flying to Japan to visit breweries and sake festivals. It's a great job to have!
Does food ever inspire your music?
HO: No, but that might be a concept to explore for our new album! People have come to expect a certain acoustic sound from us, and we'd like this album to be quite different from our first one.
KANNU: We've not written about food, but once, for a song-writing class, I made my students rewrite the lyrics to Kit Chan's Home, and write about char kway teow instead. It was quite a fun exercise!
What's the weirdest dish you've ever eaten?
HO: That would be shirako (fish sperm). I've had whale sperm, and Rai has had cod sperm. It tastes like tofu, actually!
KANNU: We've also had fugu (puffer fish). We ate it in Japan, so we knew it had been properly cleaned of the poison. In Singapore, you typically get fugu in jerky form, but we had ours in a steamboat, and as sashimi. It was great.