Prawn noodles - that was the local dish former Mediacorp actress Fiona Xie missed the most when she was based in Hong Kong, Shanghai and New York over the past seven years.
She told M she could "never find prawn noodles that tasted the same as the ones back home".
"The broth was always different," said the 34-year-old who recently returned to Singapore permanently, adding that she "missed the food more than anything".
"That's why whenever I come back, my mum will get everything - from bak kut teh to carrot cake - because she knows I'll have a bit of everything."
But Xie, who makes her TV comeback in new Channel 5 drama Left Behind, airing every Monday at 10pm, also appreciates fine dining as much as hawker fare.
Iberico Pork Loin. (Photo: The New Paper)
Speaking to M over a three-course lunch at one Michelin-starred French restaurant Jaan on the 70th storey of Swissotel The Stamford, she said: "I love coming here because the ambience is fantastic and the view is just breathtaking."
Another reason Jaan is one of her favourites: chef Kirk Westaway, who added an appetiser, Maple-Cured Rainbow Trout featuring a beetroot collection served with a side of wasabi, to Xie's meal.
It was followed by his signature Heirloom Tomato, Iberico Pork Loin and Bigarreau Cherry, with another dessert, Gariguette Strawberry, thrown in just for her.
She raved: "The food is amazing. It's so good that I usually just decide on a course and leave it to Kirk to decide what to serve.
"I love his creativity whenever he plates any dish from the kitchen... I love art and feasting. So I get the best of both worlds when I get to (feed) my eyes at the same time."
Jaan is a classy joint that serves artisanal cuisine. Do you enjoy having meals at Michelin-starred restaurants, whether it's back home or abroad?
Yes, I do visit them especially when I'm abroad. It's nice to go to these restaurants especially since I like the way dishes are presented.
But having said that, I'm also the kind of person who will eat at a restaurant and then after that, I'll go have some good ol' bak kut teh or Teochew muay (porridge) for supper at the hawker centre. And that really hits the spot. So, I like both.
At the end of the day, I'll go back to a restaurant after enjoying it the first time because it's about the personal experience and it won't matter if it has a star or no star.
Gariguette Strawberry. (Photo: The New Paper)
What were your favourite foods when you lived abroad?
I'm a comfort food person and I always go to the same places.
In Hong Kong, I went back to this one particular dim sum place almost every day. In New York, I always went to the same Italian or Japanese place. In Shanghai, I ordered a lot of delivery because it was so easy and I do like staying in.
Generally, when women go through break-ups, they lose their appetite and struggle to eat. Was that the same for you when your last relationship ended last year?
Yes, totally - my world ends. I think I lost quite a lot of weight although I'm not sure how much exactly because I don't own a weighing scale.
I just become numb. Ask my friends - I love to eat so for me to not want to eat, they will say "Wow... who are you?"
But it's okay, breaking up is part and parcel of life and I always bounce back.
You cooked quite a bit when you were in Hong Kong and New York. What are some of your specialities?
I liked to boil soup when I was in Hong Kong.
But it depends on what inspires me that day and I'll just follow the recipe - from beef stroganoff to Thai beef salad.
I tried to make prawn noodles once and I quite enjoyed that, but when I wanted to make it again, I couldn't find the recipe online any more and I was quite sad.
This article was first published on August 24, 2016.
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