Celebrity chow with local actress Oon Shu An

By her own confession, Oon Shu An is "totally useless in the kitchen".

When asked if she had any cooking skills, the 28-year-old local actress said: "No, no, I can't cook at all. I don't know why, I guess I don't like touching raw meat.

"I used to make really good brownies when I was younger, using Betty Crocker's brownie mix.

"But even for something so easy, my mum had to help me with the temperature."

Oon, whose deep, classy voice belies her bubbly, vivacious personality, is lucky to have many loved ones who enjoy whipping up a sumptuous feast.

"My boyfriend is an excellent cook. He can do butter chicken, scrambled eggs, sauteed mushrooms, salted vegetable soup and Hainanese chicken rice," she said, beaming widely.

"My sister can cook pretty well, too. So can my mum, who makes excellent stewed pork belly with soya sauce.

"Me? I help out during Chinese New Year. When my family makes popiah, I'd help chop stuff."

M had lunch with Oon last Friday at Four Seasons Hotel's One-Ninety Wood-fired Steaks and Seafood restaurant, where she went gaga over the delectable spread of dishes that included truffle focaccia, tomahawk steak and asparagus.

She washed it all down with a glass of the hotel's exclusive Singapore Sangria which she says: "This drink is dangerous, I don't feel the alcohol."

Last month, Oon scored her big Hollywood break by landing the part of concubine Jing Fei in US miniseries Marco Polo - all 10 episodes are available on Netflix, via on-demand streaming - a historical 13th-century drama that details Venetian explorer Polo's early years of adventure in Mongolian conqueror Kublai Khan's court.

She is also on board the third season of Channel 5's Code Of Law as one of its new leads, playing a feisty defence attorney. The legal drama airs every Monday at 9.30pm.

"The Code Of Law family is tight-knit, some of the cast and crew members have been together since (Ch 5 legal drama) The Pupil days," she said.

"But when I joined, I didn't feel out of place. Everyone made an effort to make me feel at home."

Marco Polo was shot at the Pinewood Studios in Johor. Was it the most epic set you've worked on? How was the food there?

Yes, most definitely. The sets were incredibly grand. There is so much detail, from the flooring to the walls and the murals. They even recreated slums and villages, which were extremely realistic.

Food-wise, we were in Malaysia, so it was pretty similar to Singapore. We were well fed while we were shooting, that's for sure.

If you could master a few dishes, what would they be?

Salted egg yolk prawns. Salted egg yolk bittergourd. Salted egg yolk crab. I love salted egg yolk, it's the best thing in the world.

Salted egg yolk. Nice, but very sinful.

I don't worry much about cholesterol levels. Everything I eat must be worth the calories. I don't want to be on my deathbed thinking, "Shucks, I should have eaten more pasta."

What are your food indulgences? Anything you'd never tire of eating?

Ice cream, all kinds of candy, dessert, eggs, pasta. My mum makes the best lemon yoghurt cake. I can eat that all day long.

It's a pity, as I'm a huge fan of all these things, yet my stomach is sensitive to wheat, potato, lactose and gluten. Oddly enough, the sensitivity developed only in my adulthood. I try to steer clear of foods like these when I'm at work, because if my stomach is irritable, it affects my performance.

Favourite eating haunts in Singapore?

I love the beef noodles and western food at Old Airport Road Food Centre. I feel an affinity with the eastern side of Singapore, as I used to study there. I also like Punggol Nasi Lemak.

From time to time, my family and I like going for buffet, so that there's something for everyone. The buffets at StraitsKitchen and Marriott Cafe are great.

We are also fond of tze char places. There's one near Brickworks Food Centre that we always go to.

You and your photographer boyfriend have been dating for three years. Have you thought about your dream wedding?

We would love a beach wedding, with the sunset in the backdrop. Sunrise would be lovely, but nobody would wake up in time, including us.

It has to be held in Singapore, as all our friends are here. It's so inconvenient to have everyone travel out of the country.

I'm not so fussy about wedding day food. My boyfriend loves roast meat, so maybe a roast pig? A barbecue or full-on buffet sounds good, too. Oh yes, lots of alcohol. That's an absolute must.


This article was first published on Jan 21, 2015.
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