Celebrity chow with Taiwanese pop group Popu Lady

If you think that the girls of Popu Lady retain their slender figures through strict diets, you would be wrong.

The truth is that members of the popular Taiwanese pop group will not say no to their favourite high-carb comfort food.

The sprightly quintet, who go by stage monikers Da Yuan, Bao Er, Hong Shi, Tingxuan and Yushan, admit that they enjoy nibbling on snacks throughout the day and occasionally go for latenight suppers.

"I never tire of chocolate - dark chocolate, milk chocolate, I love them all," said Tingxuan, 25.

Her teammate, jumper-clad Bao Er, 25, professed a fondness for tidbits, especially biscuits.

Oldest member Hong Shi, 27, adores "rice, potatoes and other starch-laden foods", while voluptuous Da Yuan, 25, who is the group's leader, used to enjoy drinking pearl milk tea.


She laughed as she recalled the "rude shock" she got, while reading up on her preferred choice of drink on the Internet. "Do you know a glass of pearl milk tea contains 700 calories?" she asked.

"The figure made my jaw drop! Now, I try not to drink it too often."

In town last week to promote their third mini-album More, the wholesome fivesome met M for dinner at The Charlie Brown Cafe at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard.

Besides feasting on rich dishes such as seafood pasta, Hawaiian pizza and a platter of fried fish fingers, nuggets and fries, the girls merrily posed for photos with the cafe's Peanuts-themed decor and Snoopy memorabilia.

"There are so many themed cafes in Taipei, you can even find a Hello Kitty one," said Tingxuan.

"But cute interior aside, the food must be good too. It's important to us."

So what is their secret to retaining both their figures and hearty appetites?

"We attend regular fitness classes," said Hong Shi. "That definitely helps."

You are label mates with top Mandopop female trio S.H.E. Are you pressured to do as well as Selina, Hebe and Ella? Do you feel stiff competition from your K-pop counterparts?

Hong Shi: We're extremely honoured to be S.H.E's juniors as we really look up to them, especially their singing abilities, tight chemistry and eloquence.

Of course there is pressure, but it comes more from ourselves.

Tingxuan: There are so many things we can learn from today's K-pop groups.

For example, their charisma during live concerts, their fashion sense, their music and choreography. I don't view the K-pop industry as competition.

Who is the best cook among the five of you?

Yushan: I would say Hong Shi and Bao Er. Within our group, Hong Shi's in charge of whipping up savoury items, whereas Bao Er aces the desserts and pastries.

Hong Shi: Not too long ago, I was very proud of myself for mastering candied sweet potatoes, a Taiwanese dish.

I downloaded the recipe off the Internet.

It was actually rather simple and my version turned out to be a success. I felt like I could set up a night market stall right there in my kitchen.

Which Taiwanese delicacies would you recommend to Singaporeans?

Yushan: All five of us love night market fare such as rice noodles with pork intestine, smelly tofu, fried salty chicken and oyster omelette.

Hong Shi: My recent newfound favourite is fried yam balls, they're super delicious.

Favourite restaurants in Taipei?

Yushan: One of my family's all-time favourite eateries is Very Thai, a popular restaurant chain offering a wide variety of Thai dishes at economical prices.

Bao Er: I would say Belle Epoque, a cosy and quaint cafe.

We loved the pearl milk tea-flavoured waffles they serve.

Hong Shi: For great seafood, you have to go to Addiction Aquatic Development fish market. They have huge crabs and the restaurant is divided into different sections for sushi, barbecue and hotpot.

Da Yuan: I like Okaeri, a laid-back Japanese barbecue joint. It's a lovely spot where friends can catch up over beer and grilled meat. Their noodle helpings are gigantic too.

Is ambience important on a first dinner date?

Tingxuan: I'd feel awkward if a guy takes me to a very romantic restaurant on our first date. Those fine-dining venues are usually overly quiet.

Yushan: If the ambience is amazing but the food is bad, it shows poor taste on the guy's part. He is probably just trying to act cool. (Laughs)

Any favourite Singapore dishes?

Bao Er: Black pepper crabs. Two years ago, when we first visited Singapore, we tried it for the first time and instantly fell in love with it. I was surprised to discover that the crab's legs are as big as my hands. (Laughs)

This article was first published on January 28, 2015.
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