Hip to be square
Local pop quartet The Sam Willows dig cool factor of old-school joint Sin Lee Foods
The Sam Willows love eateries that defy their expectations - like heritage joint Sin Lee Foods, which is nestled in an old, charming neighbourhood in Jalan Bukit Ho Swee.
The local pop quartet, made up of siblings Benjamin and Narelle Kheng, 25 and 22, and friends Sandra Riley Tang, 25, and Jonathan Chua, 26, met M over lunch, where we feasted on the cafe's specialities, such as mentaiko okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), fried chicken and waffles, and a dish called Beef & Grains.
They are currently preparing for their concert at The Coliseum at Hard Rock Hotel on July 22 at 7pm.
Said Narelle: "The first time I came here with my friends, I thought it would be some coffee shop. I didn't realise it was so hipster."
Added Chua: "Sin Lee Foods has a great mixture of 'atas' (Malay for high-class) food and a homely feel.
"I'm the sort who's open to exploring new places to eat, but I won't give the eatery another chance if it's bad. This is one of the few places that I will come back to."
What are your favourite dishes at Sin Lee Foods?
Chua: The mentaiko okonomiyaki. I first knew of Sin Lee Foods from a video on (restaurant reservation platform) Chope. The guy in the video was cooking this dish. I also like their coconut slushie. It's to die for.
Tang: What is this? (pointing to the 'Beef & Grains' dish)
Chua: Beef and rice.
Narelle: It's so good.
Beef & Grains
Do you guys have any pre-show and post-show food rituals when it comes to concerts?
Narelle: I take a very long time to warm up my voice, so I try to avoid foods such as chicken, chocolate and chilli. But when the food's really good, I'll tell myself, "Never mind lah, I'll just take a bit". (Laughs)
Benjamin: I can't eat before a show as my stomach will feel weird. But after we're done, all hell breaks loose.
Tang: I love food, I love snacking. My greatest worry about eating before a show is burping into the microphone.
Chua: Which has happened before.
Tang: Yes, it has.
Benjamin: That's why Sandra has her own mic.
Fried Chicken & Waffles
Who is the biggest eater? And who doesn't put on weight?
Benjamin: Narelle. This is the girl who orders supper every night at 2am. Every night.
Tang: Yeah, she has Maggi noodles in her room.
Chua: In the five years we've been together as a band, every one of us has seen our weight fluctuate except for Narelle, whose weight is the most consistent.
Benjamin: But Narelle, you know it's all gonna go to waste when you hit your 30s. (Laughs)
Who is the best and worst cook?
Narelle: I feel like we will have a debate over this. Alright, the worst cook is me. I don't even try to cook. Jon is probably the best cook.
Benjamin: The first time I ever cooked, it was instant noodles. I had a piece of cardboard and I was hiding behind it. I was scared of the oil. (Laughs). Real man.
Chua: Once, four of us had a cook-out and Ben brought Famous Amos cookies.
Benjamin: Hey, those cookies were handmade. Just by another person.
What are some bad eating habits during a dinner date that puts you off?
Chua: If you're gonna eat with your hands, you should eat with just your index finger and thumb. It's so odd to see people eating chicken wings with all five fingers.
Tang: I don't like it when my date has bad manners.
Chua: Like if he farts at the dinner table?
Tang: No, like being rude to the waiters or waitresses.
Benjamin: I hate it when people add salt to their food before even trying the food.
Chua: That's you!
Benjamin: Yes, I know. I salt everything. I'm trying to change.
Who is the most adventurous eater in the group?
Tang: Me! When we went on holiday in Thailand, I was so excited to try fried insects, fried maggots, crickets and cockroaches. I like to try weird food. But when I told everyone else, they were disinterested.