VIDEO: Eating through Singapore in 24 hours
Faced with months away from his beloved local food, one man set off on an epicurian quest of epic proportions...
When Mr Joel Teo said he wanted to eat 24 iconic Singaporean dishes in 24 hours, nobody took him seriously.
So he spent a few months crafting a plan of action and upped the ante to 42 dishes, calling it an eating "marathon".
"The idea came to me some time last year when I was eating my way through Hong Kong and Penang. Whenever I travel, I hunt down the best cuisine and try to eat everything the place has to offer.
"But I realised that I never actually did that in Singapore, which is odd because Singapore has really great food," he says.
The self-styled hedonist explains that the thing he will miss most about Singapore when he flies to London for university later this year is the food, and he wanted to dedicate a day to local fare before that.
He began planning in January, listing as many iconic local dishes as he could, before looking for reputable hawkers stalls that sold "exceptional" examples of each.
He then shortlisted the stalls based on their opening hours and rest days before deciding on a final itinerary. Then, armed with tissue packets for "choping" (reserving) seats, several litres of soda to wash down the food, plenty of gung-ho and a couple of friends to chart the journey, the 20-year old set off on his food marathon at 8am on May 23.
Laksa, chicken rice, mee rebus, nasi lemak, Indian rojak and roti prata - Mr Teo ate them all.
"I tried to fit in nearly everything you can think of when you say 'Singaporean food'. The only exceptions are things that are too costly or time-consuming, like chili crab," he says.
But despite his careful planning, there were hiccups along the way as some stalls were inexplicably closed, or ran out of ingredients before he arrived.
So, some dishes were replaced on the fly, like chendol for cheng tng.
Mr Teo was not satisfied with merely trying a few bites of each dish before moving on.
For most dishes, he ate about half of the serving while his friends helped him to polish off the rest. For smaller dishes like goreng pisang, he had a full share to himself.
But by the 18th hour, at 2am, the food fatigue finally caught up.
Wearily, he resolutely spooned orh luak (fried oyster omelette) into his mouth.
At nearly 6am, some 21 hours after they ordered the first plate of roast meats, Mr Teo finished the last dregs of his kopi gu you (coffee with butter), shaking his head.
"I am never, ever doing this again," he says.