Meat exotic Spanish dishes at Dehesa

Cold meats platter.

One of the most exciting restaurant openings happened late last month.

Chef Jean-Philippe Patruno - formerly of Bomba and Una - opened Dehesa on his birthday, Dec 18. But for foodies, it was a birthday gift for all.

Dehesa is a nose-to-tail intimate restaurant, with food served up close and personal.

Get a seat by the counter and watch the chefs at work. Your food comes off the stove and goes right into your mouth.

The bad news is that you won't get paella - heartbreaking for some because the chef makes great ones.

Instead, you'll get a menu of exciting dishes that you seldom find.

I ate there twice - once invited, once on my own - and I haven't stopped recommending it to everyone.


To get a sense of what Dehesa is all about, go for the cold meats platter ($25). You'll get delectable portions of fifi pate (made from belly, heart and liver), pig ear and my favourite, pig head.


The ox tongue ($14) is another must-try. It has a nice chew. Add the unexpected hit of anchovies and you have a classic dish in the making.


This is a common delicacy in Spanish cuisine. The duck hearts ($10) benefited from the quince sauce, which added a subtle sweetness.


The ox heart ($15) with veal jus reduction was a bit of a chew, but worth the effort.


I love that Dehesa uses local produce, and uses it well too. The lala ($14) comes with chilli for a fiery Asian touch.

WHAT Dehesa

WHERE 12, North Canal Road

WHEN Lunch: Weekdays 11.30am-2.30pm Dinner: Mondays to Saturdays 5.30pm-11pm

CALL 6221-7790

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K-POP'S oldies are goldies

New Korean acts too slick, too cute, or too boring

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South Korean band CNBlue takes China by storm
ROCKERS: Members of CNBlue (from left) Lee Jung Shin, Jung Yong Hwa, Lee Jong Hyu and Kang Min Hyuk.

South Korean pop rockers CNBlue are fast becoming the blue-eyed boys of Chinese showbiz.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The quartet, made up of lead vocalist and frontman Jung Yong Hwa, 26, guitarist Lee Jong Hyun, 25, bassist Lee Jung Shin and drummer Kang Min Hyuk, both 24, have found fame not only on their home turf but also in China.

The band has made special appearances on China'spopular variety programmes, Day Day Up and Happy Camp.

Jung emerged an Internet sensation of sorts on Sina Weibo, a Chinese hybrid of Twitter and Facebook.

In December 2014, it was reported that just six weeks after Jung set up a Sina Weibo account to interact with his Mandarin-speaking fans, he was a trending topic on the social media platform no less than 20 times.

Last September, CNBlue recorded their debut Chinese hit single Cinderella, which was used as the theme song of South Korea-China produced action comedy flick Bad Guys Always Die.

While Cinderella does not deviate from the group's trademark groovy rock sound and punchy choruses, the Chinese was a challenge for Jung.

"Learning a new language isn't easy. However, I enjoy learning Chinese and I had great fun recording the Chinese version of Cinderella," he told M in an e-mail interview.

"I'm not fluent in Chinese yet, but I'm happy that I am (now) able to communicate directly with my fans in Chinese.

"I learn a lot more by frequently watching Chinese variety shows and interacting with fans on Sina Weibo."


Jung might just show off his Mandarin at the band's concert in Singapore next month.

CNBlue, who last performed here in 2014 and 2013, will be at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Feb 13. Jung staged his first solo concert here last May.

"We are happy to spend Valentine's Day with our Singapore fans," said Jong Hyun. "The fact that we are performing our music to fans on such a good day is very romantic in itself."

He added: "Singapore fans can expect to see sides of us they don't usually see (on TV).

"We will be doing a medley together using just our voices, no instruments."

When asked about their ideal partner, the four eligible bachelors each had a different description.

Jung said: "I tend to like girls who are nice and good-natured."

Kang said he preferred "someone who I feel comfortable with when we are together".

Jung Shin likes "feminine girls who are cute" while Jong Hyun is looking for a someone "who is mature yet fun to be with".

The Korean-language version of Cinderella is in the band's second album 2gether, released last September and available on iTunes.

Unlike many K-pop idol outfits who have no creative input in their studio releases, Jung, Jong Hyun and Jung Shin are heavily involved in the music composition and production.

All 11 tracks on 2gether are penned by the trio.

"The inspiration for our songs come from everyday life," said Jung.

"We write down minor things we see or hear on a regular basis.

"If good melodies pop into our head, we save them and fine-tune them in our studio when we have time."

I'm not fluent in Chinese yet, but I'm happy that I am (now) able to communicate directly with my fans in Chinese.

- CNBlue lead vocalist 
Jung Yong Hwa

2016 CNBlue Live Come Together In S’pore

WHEN Feb 13, 7pm

WHERE Singapore Indoor Stadium

TICKETS $118 to $268 from Sports Hub Tix (

Tags: CNBlue, k-pop and China

Woodlands supporters may form team to run in FAS elections

DIE-HARD RAMS: James Lim (holding sign) and Ben Teh (on Lim's left) with their family members at a Woodlands Wellington match.

They stood up to fight to keep Woodlands Wellington alive when the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) looked to merge the club with Hougang United in 2014.

To date, it is a merger that has yet to pass muster, but has proven to be an experience that has convinced James Lim, Ben Teh and their team that football in the Republic is in serious need of new leadership.

While Lim and Teh will have to wait for the FAS to put forward the rules governing its first-ever election pencilled in for June, they are putting the wheels in motion to form a team to bring change to the football fraternity here.

This comes after world football governing body Fifa, asked the FAS to align its constitution to prevent third-party interference in football, and to allow for the fraternity to pick its own leadership.


"In the past, we had total trust in our leaders for doing the right thing for Singapore. After the experience in fighting the closure of our football club, it was clear that we need change," said Lim, a former deputy director at the People's Association.

Lim's statements come in the wake of the FAS still being unable to provide concrete answers about the existence of Woodlands, and how their jackpot room is being run.

In an earlier TNP report (Dec 18, Rams not dead), an FAS spokesman said it was awaiting a decision from "relevant authorities with regard to Woodlands' status as a society and the operations of their clubhouse".

The FAS did not answer questions pertaining to the Rams' current existence or how their jackpot room was being run, except that "Woodlands have already commenced repayment of their debts from the revenue generated from the club's fruit machine operations".

"We will find out how they determine the suitability of candidates for the various positions in the FAS council and then, based on that, we will determine who will fit those roles," said the 50-year-old.


"We think we're the right people because we are professionals in our own regard and we speak from the heart. But although we're the only ones speaking up for now, we're not the only right ones," said Teh, a 43-year-old technical manager, who declined to reveal the names they are considering.

"I believe there are several people who have the capability, and we hope they come forward to serve.

"Football is the No. 1 sport in this country, with people in professional jobs. I'm sure it won't be hard to find people of calibre to help run the sport here.

"It doesn't matter whether we run for election ourselves, but the FAS needs change, that's for sure."

Their issue with the current leadership runs deeper than the question of Woodlands.

Lim asserts that the FAS has lost touch with one of its most important stakeholders - the fans.


"I firmly believe football can unite people of all races, from all walks of life," said Lim, who is a grassroots leader and chairman of the Woodgrove Community Sports Club.

"I remember the days when the National Stadium was packed with 40,000 to 50,000 people, coming together to celebrate goals, even shout at the referee. That's nation building, and we're missing out on that now,"

"We had less than 10,000 at the National Stadium at the recent World Cup qualifiers. This cannot continue."

While the 3-0 loss to Japan saw 33,868 in the stadium last month, two other home fixtures, against Cambodia and Syria, saw a combined total of just 14,118 fans.

"They say they want to get the national team into the Asian Cup Finals in 2017, but what's the point of all that if they're not bringing the people along on that journey?" asked Lim.

Pointing to the LionsXII misadventure, and the possibility of a Singapore team joining the Asean Super League next year, Lim believes the FAS leadership must make decisions based on what Singaporeans want for the most popular sport in the country.

"It must make decisions by considering the aspirations of Singaporeans," said Lim, who has already made moves to engage all who are concerned about the sport.

"I've already written to the Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth to ask for a national platform to have a discussion on where we see our football going.

"The FAS elections is a historic moment, and it is time for change."

The FAS has not shown that it can rally Singaporeans with a shared vision. Without this shared vision, these people at FAS have not been accountable to stakeholders.

— James Lim (above, left)

Now we have an opportunity. For the first time in our lifetime, we can say that maybe we can do a better job for football, or maybe we know this guy who can change things for the better.

— Ben Teh (above, right)

Sports School: Students can excel in both studies and sports

Average score of Sports School's IB cohort goes above national median

ACES: Singapore Sports School's top students from its pioneer IB batch (from left) Deborah Wong, Daphne Oh and Bernard Ong scored 43, 41 and 42 points respectively, contributing to their school's average of 40, which is higher than the national median of 38.5.
“I think that with the IB results, we have just nailed it... we can help people balance regular sports training together with academic studies. we can do it well and deliver the outcomes.” — Singapore Sports School principal Tan Teck Hock

Can the Singapore Sports School (SSP) help its student-athletes excel in both sports and studies?

That is one question that parents and their children had been asking since the Woodlands-based school was formed in 2004.

With the results of its first batch of International Baccalaureate (IB) graduates released yesterday, principal Tan Teck Hock hopes to dispel any doubt that his school can help its students excel both in the classroom and in the sporting arena.

The 19 SSP IB graduates scored between 35 and 43, out of a maximum of 45 points, with the school's average score of 40 higher than the national median of 38.5.

Tan was quick to note, though, that the last statistic is obtained from a small cohort, as opposed to the likes of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and Hwa Chong International School, which have more IB students.


Tan said: "We have proven in the 
O levels that we can do it, but it wasn't enough; we had our first President's Scholar in Scott Ang, not enough; last year, we had Isabelle Li receive the Public Service Commission scholarship, still not enough.

"People are still asking us the question. I think that with the IB results, we have just nailed it and I think we should just end this, all the doubting Thomases should just go away.

"We can help people balance regular sports training together with academic studies. We can do it well and deliver the outcomes."

Graduates such as Deborah Wong (netball), Bernard Ong (badminton) and Daphne Oh (bowling) - all 18 - said factors such as living on campus, small classroom sizes and the customisation of their sports and classroom schedules helped in the Class of 2015 doing well.

Said Deborah, the school's top scorer with 43 points: "There were several times where I was nearly at my breaking point because of my studies and training, but staying in boarding helped because the teachers (who stayed in boarding) would hang around after supervised study time and just talk to us."

Bernard, who scored 42 points, said there were "eight to 10 teachers" for the class of 21 - two will take the IB exams in May - and their academic schedules are adjusted to fit into their competition and training commitments.

The former student councillor and 2014 Youth Olympian said: "If I were in a mainstream school, I think one of my three responsibilities (studies, training and student council) would have to suffer."


Tan added: "We are always ready to allow someone to compete locally or overseas without having to worry about missing classes... it's instinctive for us to say, 'You go first and we think of a way to do make-up classes'."

Former student council president Daphne has even received a conditional offer to study zoology at the University of Western Australia in Perth next month, based on her earlier exam results.

Daphne, who scored 41 points said: "Bowling will still be an important part of my life, even if I am more interested now in animals and environmental conservation."

"I will probably be in the collegiate team in Australia and still competing in tournaments over there," added the 2015 Australia National Youth Cup Finals champion.