A Taste of Home: Tryson Quek on Missing Singapore and Its Array of Local Foods
Singaporean chef Tryson Quek was one of the rising stars in the local culinary scene when he and his wife, award-winning bartender Bannie Kang, moved to Taipei, Taiwan to open speakeasy bar and restaurant Mu. "Having a restaurant and bar we could call our own had always been our dream," shares Quek, before letting on that they chose Taiwan as their current base as their creations "take inspiration from the four seasons" as well as the seasonal produce and ingredients they can easily procure from the island as well as in neighbouring countries such as China, Korea and Japan.
The goal is to create a space that offers equally delicious food and drinks, and Quek serves elevated Asian fare that showcases the unique Asian culture and ingredients and accented with local touches as a tribute to where he comes from. Singapore is where his love for food and cooking developed, and he always looks forward to coming home to savour the local dishes and drinks he misses the most.
What do you miss most on the food/drink front when you are away from Singapore or haven’t been back for a while?
Tryson Quek (TQ) Singapore may be one of the smallest cities globally but there are plenty of major attractions to experience—this includes our vibrant F&B landscape. I am impressed with the plethora of local foods, particularly Hokkien mee and char kway teow which are hard to recreate. I think these dishes are unique because their influence spans Malay, Chinese, Peranakan, Indian and Indonesian cuisines.
If you have visitors/guests with you, where do you ensure you always go to give them a real taste of home?
TQ I often bring them to hidden spots not often visited by tourists to get a taste of delicious local food such as char kway teow, bak chor mee and Singapore zi char. These are just some of my favourites and thinking about them now makes me hungry and miss Singapore even more.
What are your favourite heritage dishes and where are some of the places you go to find them?
TQ Singapore is a food lover’s paradise and many fawn our rich culinary heritage, defined by humble hawker centres spread out across the island. Step into any hawker centre and you’ll come across a dizzying array of dishes and cuisines spanning Singaporean, regional Chinese and Malay that you won’t find anywhere else.
Whenever I’m home, I often visit Bedok 85 Market for its barbecue stingray, barbecue chicken wings and satay. I can order everything here for a delicious meal that never fails.
Where do you like to meet up with old friends for food and drinks?
TQ I usually invite them to my house, and I’ll cook the meal while my wife will take care of the drinks. In fact, we originally wanted to establish a private dining business at home, so we could also host family and friends with no time limit.
Do you have a favourite bar that you need to visit when you’re in Singapore? What drink do you often order and why?
TQ I don’t have a favourite bar, but I would often visit as many bars as possible to meet friends and at the same time, support the F&B scene as much as I can. As for drinks, I often start with the Whisky Highball and follow it up with a signature drink on the menu to understand the bartender’s style.
What do you always take back home with you when you leave Singapore?
TQ Chilli, kaya and coffee mix because they're hard to find in Taiwan, especially the local coffee you'd find in a hawker centre.
Where do you go to find authentic flavours of home where you currently live in Taiwan?
TQ There is a shop near my house that sells most Southeast Asian products. I would just buy ingredients there and cook the local dishes myself at the restaurant for our staff meal. In that sense, I am also able to share my Singaporean heritage with the team through food.