Celebrity Chow with actor Romeo Tan

Chinese New Year is around the corner and local actor Romeo Tan is all geared up for his family's annual raucous gathering around the steamboat.

Last week, over our sumptuous lunch at Japanese restaurant Ramen Matsuri at North Canal Road, the suave 28-year-old rising star at MediaCorp talked excitedly about his family's traditional ritual of "making different soup bases, choosing healthy ingredients and having barbecued pork on the side".

Earnest and humble despite his burgeoning fame, part of Tan's charm lies in his grounded upbringing.

The leading man of Channel 8 drama series Yes We Can! - which airs on weekdays at 9pm - lives with his parents, his older brother and wife, plus their two young children.

As he savoured his bowl of sakura chicken ramen, along with gyozas (Japanese dumplings) and steamed chicken, Tan opened up about his favourite food and restaurants and why he had feelings of regret after unknowingly feasting on rabbit meat pasta.

What is your all-time favourite cuisine?

I will never get sick of eating Japanese food, especially sushi.

My favourite sushi is the simplest tamago (egg) one. I have no idea why I like it so much. Maybe because it's sweet and I generally like sweet stuff.

I like Thai food a lot too. When I go to a Thai eatery, I will always order green curry and pad thai (rice noodles).

My sister-in-law is Thai and for the past few Chinese New Year reunion dinner steamboats we had at home, tom yam soup base was a must.

Any favourite hawker haunts?

I like fried Hokkien mee, wanton mee, fried carrot cake and oyster omelette. Shucks, they're all very unhealthy. (Laughs) But yeah, if I'm into hawker food, I will order these few dishes.

Lavender Food Centre has this special wanton mee that has a slightly transparent appearance. It's very delicious. The Hokkien mee at Whampoa market is great too.

I'd also highly recommend the bak chor mee at Bedok 85 market and the satay at Bedok North Block 511.

How do you chill out? Do you go for drinks with friends?

If I want to chill, I'll meet my friends at a 24-hour Hong Kong tea restaurant-styled cafe, somewhere at East Coast Road.

I don't like pubs as I don't really drink alcohol. And most pub grub or finger food isn't that nice.

Where would you take your family for a nice meal?

My parents prefer Chinese cuisine. So I like restaurant chains like Dian Xiao Er, which serves yummy roast duck, and Din Tai Fung. I'm a fan of its seafood fried rice.

Any restaurant you've visited that would be the perfect place for a romantic dinner date?

When I visited Tokyo, my friends recommended New York Grill, which is located on the 52nd floor of Park Hyatt Tokyo. The ambience was amazing and you get a scenic view of the whole city.

Do you cook?

I bake more than I cook. I enjoy baking pasta and brownies. I also like doing breakfast food, such as omelette.

Have you eaten anything that you regretted?

Yes. Once, I ate rabbit meat pasta at Resorts World Sentosa. I didn't know it was rabbit meat till my friend told me.

I wouldn't have eaten if I had known, because I used to keep a pet rabbit when I was younger.

I'm okay with more common types of meat like lamb and beef, but dog and rabbit meat are out.

How about eating kangaroo meat? It's a very famous Aussie dish.

Hmm, kangaroo meat should be fine. I don't think I will keep kangaroos as pets, right? (Laughs)


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