For Malaysian-born Bonnie Loo, thoughts of home in Ipoh conjure images of poached chicken doused in soy sauce, served with crunchy bean sprouts and silky hor fun.
The Singapore-based singer-actress scored her break when she won Channel U TV singing contest Campus SuperStar last year.
"Bean sprouts chicken is the most famous dish in Ipoh, and you must try it if you visit the city," the 20-year-old rising star said in Mandarin.
"Other dishes I love are rojak and mee rebus."
Loo laments that she has been so busy of late that she had no time to visit her relatives back home.
M met Loo for ice cream, waffles and sandwiches at The Little Prince Creamery, a cosy cafe in Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupery's classic novel.
Loo's face lit up at the mention of her debut eponymous album topping the charts at CD-Rama.
"I'm over the moon," gushed the woman who plays supporting roles in drama series Against the Tide and C.L.I.F. 3.
"At the same time, I'm a little nervous. I'm a fully-fledged singer, but I realise I still have so many things to learn."
Loo will be performing at Mandopop event Singapore Hit Awards on Friday night at Suntec City Convention Centre.
What do you never tire of eating?
Mee hoon kueh (hand-pulled noodles)!
We recently filmed outdoors at the same place for almost a week and I ate mee hoon kueh every single day.
I'm extremely fond of light, soupy stuff and home-cooked dishes. My mum makes excellent Hakka yong tau foo.
When I have a craving for yong tau foo in Singapore, I go to Upper Thomson Road, where there's a whole stretch of stalls selling it.
You're not a big fan of Japanese or Korean cuisine. So you're not into Hallyu (Korean wave)?
Actually I am. I love K-pop and Korean dramas, but somehow, a lot of Korean food just doesn't gel with my taste buds.
It's the same with Japanese food. I eat it only selectively. For example, out of the many Korean dishes, I go back to only one - kimchi ramen.
Do you cook? Do you have any signature dishes?
I wouldn't say I'm a good cook, but I can make simple dishes like tomato-based pasta with mushroom and chicken.
I can do sushi rolls, but only the very fuss-free types with cucumber, crab meat and tuna.
I tried baking cookies, but it failed. I burnt my cookies.
You're single. Do you have a dream date destination?
These days, I seldom go to restaurants. Maybe Ding Tai Fung? Does that count?
I like its xiao long bao (pork dumplings) and guo tie (pan-fried dumplings).
I love these quaint cafes (gesturing to her surroundings). If I had the time, I'd love to hang out more often at such places.
I don't fancy big cafe chains. I think I've been to Starbucks only twice in my life.
Any memorable overseas food encounters?
I had the best khao niaow ma muang (mango sticky rice pudding) and som tum (green papaya salad) at the floating market in Bangkok.
They were so good that I can't find anywhere else that makes those dishes so well. I can find them at Golden Mile Complex but they still don't match up.
Speaking of Bangkok, it's been three to four years since I've been there. I'm dying to go back for a holiday!
This article was first published on November 5, 2014.
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