Posts tagged “Singapore

Comparing Singapore and London F&B work experience

So I’ve been working part-time in London for three weeks now. I won’t say much else, save that it’s an Oriental restaurant (that’s suitably vague). Having worked in Singapore in the food and beverage industry previously, I could see a serious difference in the work experience in both countries. The chief difference being customers’ attitudes. Well. Where do I begin? Customers in London are really accommodating and understanding overall; they say please and thank you, they are patient and understand when the restaurant is busy, and I’ve not had an unpleasant encounter with any (yet. And I hope it stays that way). Plus, even though service charge is already included, some insist on tipping further. (Haha yes moneyface here).

As for Singaporean customers, they tend to have a saibin (i should revive my Singaporean slang series lol) on all the time, and generally treat service staff like tools. I mean, like something to get things done, not necessarily a living breathing person. So they are more demanding, impatient; if you give them great service, they take it as what they deserve. But if you dare to make them wait or maybe serve another customer before them or mix up an order, they tend to complain straightaway, or give you that look. The look of disgust and *why are you so stupid*. And they never tip. Haha. Perhaps it’s the kiasu and corporatist culture we’ve cultivated over the years, that result in an impatient, look-out-for-oneself tendency in Singaporeans.

Anyway, the next time you go  to a restaurant, put yourself in the shoes of your waiter/cashier/service staff. Imagine it’s their tenth hour on their feet (yes, it’s happened) and perhaps they’re thinking of the schoolwork they have to rush in the early morning, before working again. Then perhaps give them an extra smile and thank-you. It’ll make their day. Trust me, it’s worked for me!


the greatest fried (black) carrot cake and roti prata i know in singapore

Hello, this post has been in my mind for a very long time. I’d like to recommend two great places for fried carrot cake (black) and roti prata, respectively. The former is located in Ang Mo Kio, Street 11. (Stall name: Ang Mo Kio 107) It is manned by a really friendly uncle who always wears a smile on his face as he fries up platter after platter of sticky delicious carrot cake! Make sure you order the black version though, as his white version is unfortunately inferior to those at Seven Mile market. His black carrot cake, though, is the best I’ve ever tasted! No joke!ImageHaha I tried to be artistic by applying a desaturation to the photo but it kinda failed. Anyway, in front of his stall, you’ll see many awards from food programs or books. He usually opens from 6 or 7pm till midnight, so take note. Haha, for more detailed directions, check out

The roti prata stall is located in Sin Ming (name: Faisal & Aziz Curry). Their prata is crispy yet fluffy inside, and does not taste too floury or flat. Their curry is also extremely hearty and sweet. I suspect they put a lot of tomatoes in it.ImageAs for other items, do try their fried chicken (about $3) – it is really better than KFC! Juicy inside, with a very flavourful crispy skin. Their curry chicken is also a must try. Their address is Block 24, Sin Ming Road, #01-51 Jin Fa Restaurant (near Thomson Road).ImageI always try to bring my visiting overseas friends to these more local places, as I find many of the much-touted kopitiams like Chomp Chomp or Newton Circus are too commercialised, and more pricey too. These smaller shops are also have a more homey atmosphere and will show a more local slice of life to your overseas friends! Oh man, I just remembered I also have recommendations for beef noodles and nasi lemak. Not to mention the white version of carrot cake!

So much good food to share! Nevermind, I’ll leave them to subsequent posts.

news 060112 – minister pay and national pastimes

I’ve been following the unfolding of the revaluing of Ministers’ pay in Singapore with mild interest. But yesterday, after chatting with some ex-colleagues over lunch about this topic, I felt more interested. As of now, there has been a proposed change to the formula for ministerial pay including a 65% fixed and 35% variable components (article: here). I’m rather confused by all these numbers, but what I zoomed in on was the removal of the pension system and a reworking of the bonus system, to be pegged not just on GDP, but other measures too. Overall, I think the pay cuts are quite substantial – especially the 51% cut proposed for the President. This was more than I initially expected. I’m also quite happy that bonuses will be tied with measures like performance of the bottom 20% of society – as ministers will then be even more motivated to achieve equitable progress for all, not just GDP and other figures. More human, la.

My colleagues were not so forgiving, though. One said she was not satisfied with the cuts, and wanted more, while the other noted that dissatisfaction and a general air of complaint have been festering too long, for months in fact, all the way from GE2011. I think this can be seen also from the backlash Grace Fu received after she posted a comment on her facebook page (article: here). I just checked at there were over a thousand replies!

I understand how her comment might irk some, because she mentions an unwillingness for her standard of living to drop, and there is a perceived discrepancy between her standard and the majority’s standard. This can lead to outrage as the majority cannot imagine her standard. But you must see where both sides are coming from. And I do agree with her in that for private sector individuals who are earning much more, stepping into politics would not be attractive because of the factors she mentioned, like loss of privacy, and earning less.

On the other hand, others have also commented that ministers should be motivated by more than just money, perhaps an altruistic commitment to better society and help people? Ultimately, I agree that a minister pay cut would discourage some of the real top echelon from switching; but I think that there are others to fill this void, some who are motivated by more than just pay – perhaps a real desire to effect changes that improve the lives of Singaporeans.

Oh well. I’ve seen Grace Fu in person, as she attended our church community outreach efforts, and I think she really makes the effort to know her constituency and help her residents, so I respect her for that. Sooo maybe we just need to take a step back and consider each others’ positions and justifications for saying certain things. Yeah, but Singaporeans love to complain. A while back, CNA found that Singaporeans’ top three hobbies are eating, shopping, and surfing the internet. (Article: here) Hahaha, how boring, right? It’s so true, though. Eating is one thing that really unites us. I have the impression that photography is the world’s top hobby, and fish-keeping is second, but I’m not too certain. Certainly, photography sounds more atas / refined than eating! I think we should add complaining to one of our top national hobbies too!

Random edit: found a nice reply by Dyaa to the question, “Why are eating and shopping national pastimes in Singapore?” (website: here


Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum 2010

On Monday, I attended the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum 2010. Actually, I was helping out as one of the committee! Haha. Basically, the KRMF is a yearly forum organised by the NUS Students’ Political Association where key political figures are invited to the campus to address the students. It usually includes a lively Q&A session open to the floor. This year, our invited speaker was none other than Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean (also Minister for Defence).
He was an extremely eloquent speaker, and I quite enjoyed listening to him banter with the students during the Q&A. For instance, one student from Biz expressed his worry that with Singapore banking heavily on the tourist dollar (with the opening of the 2 Integrated Resorts and other attractions like Ion, Iluma & 313), this would make Singapore vulnerable to global fluctuations and changes, i.e. Singapore would be too dependent on tourist revenue. DPM acknowledged his point but pointed out that Singapore was also diversifying by making itself relevant to upcoming economies like India and China. Later, he even asked that student what were the top 3 reasons for him starting a family in Singapore (for some reason I cannot remember, that student had confirmed his decision to raise his family in Singapore, which DPM was very happy with). It was quite hilarious, because the first reason he gave was food, and the whole auditorium burst into laughter. But he also named Singapore’s safety & security and education system (e.g. bilingual education policy) as the other 2 reasons, which DPM agreed with.
Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with any more details. In total, I noted about 12 or 13 questions. The Q&A session ended up going grossly overtime because students kept coming to the mikes to ask questions, which the DPM gamely engaged with even though he didn’t need to. After the official event, he also stayed very late to mingle with students and staff at the reception outside the auditorium! Haha, good impression eh. Best thing was, as a committee member, I got to take a photo with him! Woo! Something to show my children when I’m old and wrinkled.

One last thing that really stuck with me. DPM was asked about leadership renewal, and he made a comment that one generation will always feel that the next is not ready to take over. At some point, you just have to let go. And I heartily agree with this. I hold the opinion that if incumbent leaders don’t leave, the younger ones will be hampered from stepping up. Even though it might create a “power vacuum”, I think it actually forces them to grow and mature and fill their roles. And I’m not just referring to the Singapore government – I was thinking of other contexts. But it just left an impact on me.