Eating with the Dim Sum Dollies is one noisy affair.
Hands down Singapore's most well-loved cabaret triumvirate, these wickedly funny women - theatre practitioners Selena Tan, 42, Pam Oei, 41, and actress-DJ Denise Tan, 38 - bring their onstage larger-than-life personalities to the dining table, sans wacky costumes and hairdos.
We were at Daisy's Dream Kitchen, a cosy Peranakan eatery at West Coast Road. It is owned by Selena's mother - and Selena certainly felt right at home.
As we tucked into the mouth-watering spread of Nonya delights - babi buah keluak (stewed pork ribs with black nuts), assam chicken, black ink sotong and otah included - the gregarious star was every bit the responsible hostess, ordering additional portions of ngoh hiang (meat rolls) to go around.
The Dim Sum Dollies, by the way, are true foodies who know their Michelin-starred restaurants and obscure street food gems hidden in the nooks and crannies of Singapore.
Currently starring in musical comedy Crazy Christmas Ting Tong Belles, which will end its run on Sunday at the Esplanade Theatre, the bubbly trio reveal their favourite places to makan and who will win if they ever do a cook-out...
What's your all-time favourite food?
Oei: Curry chicken - Chinese style, Malay style, Indian style. Whatever style, I can eat it every day. I like deep-fried chicken too. Selena: My mum's ngoh hiang and black ink sotong.
Denise: Mee pok. Not bak chor mee okay, it must be mee pok with fishballs, fish cake, topped with lots of vinegar, chilli and lard. As for Western food, definitely steak and fries. And it has to be rare. I like it that it's red and bloody.
Any food you dislike?
Selena: I'm very disappointed with myself with not liking uni (Japanese for fish roe). It's odd because I'm an oyster lover. But somehow, I just can't get past uni. It must be the texture.
Oei: I eat everything, but I'm not a big fan of Mexican cuisine. The mix of sweet and spicy doesn't work for me. Also, there're too many beans.
I will never try dogs and cats. No endangered species, no domestic pets.
Denise: I'm an adventurous eater. I will eat insects if I have to, just for novelty's sake.I don't really like coriander (pointing to the coriander in front of her), it's in the same family as garland chrysanthemum and celery.
Oei: You don't like? Come, I eat for you. (Proceeds to eat the coriander)
Favourite eating places in Singapore?
Oei: Without a doubt, Samy's Curry.
Selena: I like Samy's too. How ah?
Oei: We share lah.
Selena: I love this kway chap stall located within a coffee shop at Pepys Road. I can just go there and eat the dua deng (Hokkien for big intestines).
Denise: Chendol Melaka at Soy Eu Tua Coffee Shop in Siglap serves very good nasi ulam, which is essentially super labour-intensive rice salad filled with 18 kinds of herbs, vegetables and fried fish.
Wow, you gals really know where to find good street food. Any favourite fine dining places?
Denise: I love L'Entrecote at Duxton Hill, where the steak is smothered in mustardy, tangy sauce. And at Les Bouchons at Ann Siang Road, you get unlimited serving of fries.
Oei: I like Italian food and there are two restaurants that stand out particularly - Ristorante Pietrasanta at Portsdown Road and Pasta Brava at Craig Road.
Selena: If I head out for a really fine meal, it will most probably be a Japanese one. I like Tatsuya at Goodwood Park Hotel and Kazu Sumiyaki at Cuppage Plaza.
Who will win in a Dim Sum Dollies cook-off?
Oei: I'll say it. Selena, your bee hoon ter kah (Hokkien for pork knuckles) is amazing.
Selena: As a kid, I learnt two dishes from my mum, bee hoon ter kah - which is bee hoon with canned ter kah, shredded cabbage and garlic - and fried rice. I make great pork chops too. And I came out with my own recipe for beef mushroom pie.
Oei: We are very different cooks. Selena's very intuitive - she doesn't follow recipes, while I'm the follow-recipe-strictly type.
Selena: Pam makes fantastic pineapple tarts.
Oei: My cooking is either super complex or very simple. I do Cantonese soups very well. Pork ribs lotus soup is a standard favourite.
I also do rissoles, an Indonesian-Dutch version of deep-fried popiah.
It takes many days of preparation and one whole day of cooking.
Denise: If we have a cook-off, I will lose for sure! I used to cook a lot when I was living by myself in England, but now I just let my mum feed me. I cook well in theory. I do very good instant noodles.
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