Celebrity Chow with Malaysian actor Zhang Yaodong

Malaysian actor Zhang Yaodong loves Japanese food, but this is his first time having Japanese cuisine at a halal restaurant.

The Ramen Stall at North Bridge Road officially opened in May and has more than 100 dishes on its menu, including its signature chicken broth-based ramen.

The broth is cooked for 30 hours to bring out the flavour.

Rather than offer authentic Japanese food, The Ramen Stall serves it with a local twist.

Zhang, 37, said: "It's quite unusual to have halal Japanese food in Singapore.

"I'm used to ordering pork-based ramen or tonkatsu pork cutlets, but I'm always up for trying new things.

"And since this place is halal and open until 6am, I can bring my Muslim friends here and stop by after late-night filming sessions."

Zhang, who is in Channel 8 drama Life - Fear Not, which airs on weekdays at 7.30pm, ordered the beef ramen. It is served with a combination of chicken and beef broth, and with lemongrass and mint to mimic the flavours of Vietnamese pho noodles.

"I like the taste as it's creamier than pho, which usually has a clear broth," said Zhang.

"I'd recommend this to those who enjoy Vietnamese flavours."

Zhang also tucked into lamb chops, soft shell crab maki and grilled prawns with roe and mayonnaise, some of the more popular dishes on the menu.

He said: "I like the taste of lamb, although the rest of my family can't stand the smell.

"I also enjoy seafood and the soft shell crab maki tastes very good. The grilled prawns are juicy, too."

Are you a big fan of Japanese food?

Definitely. I usually eat it about once a week, as long as I have the time. I don't like to spend too much on it, but I look for high quality ingredients.

One of my favourites is Kai Sushi and Robatayaki at Plaza Singapura. Their dishes are good and reasonably priced and I like their bluefin tuna sashimi, which is freshly flown in from Japan.

What Malaysian dishes do you miss from home?

I'm from Kuala Lumpur, so I miss the food from there like assam laksa, curry mee and nasi lemak.

Good Malaysian-style nasi lemak is especially difficult to find in Singapore, as the cooking methods here are different.

Are you a good cook?

I like to cook, but I don't have time for it these days as I live alone and work is hectic.

I prefer to cook healthy dishes like steamed broccoli and hard-boiled eggs for myself these days, as it's also quicker.

Previously, I would cook more elaborate dishes like assam fish and curries.

Where would you take your date for a romantic dinner?

I'm single now, but I would want to accommodate her tastes.

I would pick Bam! Tapas-Sake Bar for Spanish tapas or Cut by Wolfgang Puck at Marina Bay Sands.

I used to cook for my previous girlfriend, making Sichuan stingray or roast pork. I would serve the food with red wine, which is important.

Is there any food you won't eat?

I'm allergic to prawns and crab, but only if they're not fresh enough.

I eat almost anything, but I draw the line at foods that are too weird.


This article was first published on November 4, 2015.
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