Celebrity Chow with Michael Learns To Rock

It's a sight one does not often see at humble, nondescript local kopi joints.

At Nanyang Old Coffee at South Bridge Road last Thursday, Danish soft-rock balladeers Michael Learns To Rock made a grand entrance.

The group, famed for their hits 25 Minutes, The Actor and Sleeping Child, was in town for a sold-out concert last Friday.

Lead vocalist-keyboardist Jascha Richter, 52, drummer Kare Wanscher, 46, and guitarist Mikkel Lentz, 47, sauntered in, flanked by an entourage of security personnel and minders.

This intimidating introduction faded away as the guys sat down with M and gamely tried an array of traditional tea-time favourites, including kopi-o, kopi-c, kaya toast and soft boiled eggs.

It was all new to the Scandinavian musicians.

"Oh, coffee with a spoon?" quizzed Lentz, when we explained that he had to stir his coffee well in order to mix the sugar.

He said the kaya spread was "very nice, kind of similar to peanut butter", while Wanscher liked the "sweetness" of his kopi.

But the soft-boiled eggs with their runny yolks didn't appeal to their tastebuds.

"You wouldn't catch me eating this back home," said Wanscher with a laugh. "I prefer my eggs cooked (for) at least eight minutes."

You've been to Singapore a number of times. Have you tried other local food?

Wanscher: Yesterday, we went out and had seafood. We tried chilli crab for the first time, it was really good. It's something we definitely must have the next time we are here!

Richter: I had a marinated beef dish, which was great. I also liked the dumplings in Singapore. You never know what's wrapped inside each (dumpling) and for me, I needed courage to eat them. I was surprised when they tasted really nice.

Lentz: I had delicious sweet and sour fish. The fried noodles with minced meat was very good too.

Did you try durian? Any other dishes in Singapore and Asia that are not to your liking?

Wanscher: Durian is the one that smells worse than it actually tastes, right? (Laughs) We tried, but we didn't like it.

Lentz: We don't like jellyfish and sea cucumber. If they are served, we'd give them a pass.

Is there a concept of afternoon tea in Denmark? Is it common to have coffee and snacks like today?

Wanscher: No, we'd just have a beer. (Laughs)

Lentz: In Denmark, we drink coffee all day long. When you have a five-minute break at work, you have a coffee.

Richter: If there's any food to go with coffee, it'd be cakes and cookies.

Most Singaporeans are not familiar with Scandinavian or Danish food. Any recommendations?

Wanscher: Most traditional Danish food is boring and (there's nothing) very iconic.

But in recent years, there has been a culinary movement called New Nordic Cuisine, helmed by Rene Redzepi, the owner of two-Michelin star restaurant Noma.

Richter: I love Danish pork roast. What makes it special is the crispy skin, it has a crackling sound when you bite into it. A little like Peking duck.

Lentz: I would recommend Danish hotdogs, which are served with onions, pickles and cucumbers. You can find them along the streets in Denmark, in carts.

Wanscher: Fish in Denmark is generally good. There are oceans all around, so we have a lot of fresh coldwater fish, cod for example.

Richter: The whole raw food movement is enjoying popularity in Denmark too, especially among younger people.


This article was first published on July 29, 2015.
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