Queue for 1 Michelin Star hawker as long as Great Wall of China

From ‘Here’s what they queue an hour for’, 23 July 2016, article by Benson Ang, ST

After his hawker stall was awarded a prestigious Michelin star, hawker Chan Hon Meng, 51, decided to open 45 minutes earlier than his usual 10am.

On Thursday night, right after the awards were announced, the owner of Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle at Chinatown Food Complex said: “I know more people will come. I want to open earlier so the crowds will be more manageable.”

He was right. Some customers were there as early as 8.50am. By 9.15am, a queue had formed and it grew to more than 20 people at 10.30am.

…Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle in Crawford Lane, the other hawker stall with one Michelin star, also saw a longer queue. The stall sells about 400 bowls a day, with prices starting at $5 a bowl. Customers said they usually stand in line for about 45 minutes but yesterday, some queued for more than an hour.

Ms Lynn Chen, 42, who lives in the same block, started queuing at 11.10pm, but got her food only at 12.15pm. The part-time telemarketer, who has been patronising the stall two or three times a week for more than a decade, said: “The good thing is that we now have a Michelin- starred eatery below our block. The bad news is that the queue now will be as long as the Great Wall of China. The stall wins the award, but we customers lose.

“But I will still queue because my husband and I like the food.”

 

Now that we finally have a place in the ‘little red book’, Singaporeans can proudly say our cuisine is of ‘global standard’, and in typical kiasu fashion, despite our hyperbolic complaints about long queues, we still do it anyway. Come on, 1 hour is nothing! We have queued longer for things far less deserving. Like goddamn Krispy Kreme. Yes, there was a time when you could literally fly to visit the actual Great Wall of China during the period you spend queuing overnight for donuts.

While it’s easy for us to say we should take the Michelin Guide with a ‘pinch of salt’ and that this will spark meaningful conversations among Singaporeans about local cuisine regardless of our preferences, it may place unnecessarily high expectations on its recipients. The Michelin folks are known to take away stars should the quality of food fall below minimum standards. One chef took the grade so seriously he shot himself in the mouth when he heard that his 3 star restaurant might be downgraded to a measly 2 star one.

The pressure to maintain the rating could deter hawkers from experimenting with new flavours, or prevent them from retiring early lest their successors are unable to fill their Michelin shoes. IF they have any successors left. It would be interesting also to see how NEA would grade a one-star hawker stall, though I doubt a hygiene rating of D or a sporadic roach sighting would make the queues for Tai Hwa Bak Chor Mee any shorter.  On the other hand, a one-star could make an already ya-ya hawker even worse. He may ditch his straw hat and put on an actual chef’s hat instead. He may change the stall name to ‘Le Baque Chor Mee’, or ‘Poulet de Soy’.

Some critics call the whole thing a publicity stunt, similar to Gordon Ramsay pitting his Western culinary skills against locals in laksa cooking contests. Others cry foul because trailblazers and veterans who dabble in true-blue Singaporean food like Wilin Low and Violet Oon were snubbed. We should remember, however, that Michelin critics are anonymous foreigners with taste buds probably attuned to ‘Michelin-friendly’ cuisine who’re unlikely to award a restaurant that’s renown for serving the best durian pengat in the country, or something you could find in a SAF cookhouse like fried chicken wings.

Looking at the nagging disparity between the unpronounceable L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon with its sommeliers and fine customised cutlery vs the humble pork noodle hawker with his sweaty towel and smelly trays, the results somehow reek of gastronomic tokenism, given that Singapore has marketed itself so aggressively as a hawkers’ paradise. Michelin could be saying ‘OK people, let’s do the MBS thing and then choose a few small-timers just to show we appreciate hawker food too’.

Let’s hope our one star hawkers don’t let the Michelin star go over their heads and keep up the good work.  For the rest who didn’t make the cut, don’t fret, there’s always Singapore Day.

Grassroots leaders skipping immigration queue

From ‘Png Eng Huat stirring hate and anger with Facebook post: Tan Chuan-Jin’, 19 July 2016, article in CNA

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan Jin said on Tuesday (Jul 19) that Hougang Member of Parliament Png Eng Huat was “stirring hate and anger” in a Facebook post about how Mr Tan and his entourage were given expedited clearance at the immigration checkpoint at Tuas.

On Sunday, Mr Tan and a group of residents and volunteers returning from a durian trip to Johor Bahru were able to skip the immigration queue. In a Facebook post on Monday, Mr Png wrote that he too, had been at the checkpoint with his residents after a trip to Desaru, and that they were among other travellers at who had had “to wait patiently for hours for their turn”. Mr Png added that one of his residents was 89 years old and another had been injured during the tour.

The opposition Workers’ Party MP wrote: “If these two elderly residents can wait in queue patiently for their turn, so can all my volunteers and grassroots members.”

In response, Mr Tan wrote on Facebook on Tuesday: “It was not about the old folks,” he wrote. “It was aimed at stirring hate and anger, not only to be directed at me, which I can understand politically, but also at my residents and volunteers (who organised as well as helped guide each bus), as well as our officers who secure our borders. It’s unfortunate that (Mr Png) and his colleagues chose to politicise the issue.”

Mr Tan stated that he had been on an official visit to the Malaysian Deputy Home Affairs Minister’s Hari Raya open house but that he travelled by bus so that he could be with his residents and volunteers during the trip. He added that on their return journey, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) facilitated the clearance for him and his security officers who were carrying their firearms, as well as the residents and volunteers on his bus.

In a statement earlier on Tuesday, the ICA clarified that it is normal practice for ministers on both sides of the Causeway, as well as members of the Malaysian royalty, to be given expedited clearance at the land checkpoints.

It’s also ‘normal practice’ for grassroots folks to get free tickets for a BBQ among other perks, such as Primary 1 registration. Cronies and syncopants of important people jumping queues is nothing new at all. If a minister wanted to bring a personal entourage to an exclusive Pokemon Go launch and they get priority booking, then that’s just how it is with politician groupies the world over.

To call Png Eng Huat’s complaint as ‘stirring hate and anger’ is probably stretching it though. The world is facing violence on an unprecedented scale. Policemen in the US are getting man-hunted, lone wolf ISIS obsessives are attacking random people on public transport, racist Brexit supporters are taunting immigrants and Turkey just suffered from a bloody coup attempt. There is ‘hate and anger’ being stirred in all the shit that is happening globally where lives are at stake, but hardly in this case. Not out of some Opposition MP nitpicking on FB over a Minister and his minions cutting queue at Woodlands checkpoint after a durian trip.

Not all Ministers exercise their queue-jumping privilege though. Not when it comes to Redhill chicken wings.  Apparently our PM realises that most Singaporeans wouldn’t mind cabinet VIPs passing immigration before them, but deprive a hungry citizen of his chicken wing and you’re asking for trouble.

But what really bugs me about this thorny debacle is not about preferential treatment or whether Ah Png is making a big deal over the incident. It’s rather NOBODY told me that you could actually sign up for durian trips with your MP! If you could get priority clearance at ICA, imagine the quality of durian you would get during the excursion!

Hello Kitty runners selling finisher medals online

From ‘Claws come out after first Hello Kitty Run in Singapore’, 1 Nov 2014, article in CNA

Hello Kitty celebrated her 40th birthday with much fanfare on Saturday (Nov 1), as 17,000 participants showed up for the first Hello Kitty Run held at Sentosa….However heavy rain marred part of the run, and some participants said there was a mess at the medal collection area. A Facebook page created for the event was flooded with complaints. Some took issue with the lack of a wet weather plan, noting that many families with young children were soaked, while organisers themselves were equipped with ponchos.

Others pointed to “chaos” and “confusion” in the medal collection area. One participant told Channel NewsAsia that the original designated medal collection point was “massively” jammed. The organisers then announced a new medal collection in a more spacious area, and said they would only give out medals to participants who queued up and showed them their race bibs. Some said the announcement that there may not be medals for all caused a rush on the medals.

A few people alleged that the shortage of medals was due to runners who may have taken more than one. A check on online trading site Carousell found people selling their medals.

Participant Mr Tan told Channel NewsAsia that the lack of organisation at the finish line led to people “taking advantage of the situation”. “I saw quite a few people taking extra medals, and some even took whole boxes of the food and drinks,” he said. “The medals were just in open boxes and even the organisers there were very confused about whether to give them out or not.”

Meow-rathon

The Hello Kitty event, with its $75 registration fee, is one of the most expensive stretch of 5km you’ll ever run in your life, and to complete it without the coveted finisher medal would be as disappointing as queuing up for hours at McDonalds only to realise the Singing Bone Kitty has run out of stock. The object of desire here is probably the wimpiest trophy ever in the history of races, and you can even get it for less than half the registration fee online without even dashing, queuing or breaking a single drop of sweat for it. A 42.95km finisher T shirt on your back is nothing compared to wearing one that says THE POWER OF SWEET.

The medal’s selling price may skyrocket since I believe they’re people out there who’re willing to pay more than twice the registration fee to get their hands on this limited edition birthday collectible. Not only did they run for the medal, they had to go through hell queuing for the goodie bag prior to the race as well. Never underestimate the endurance and tenacity of Singaporean Kitty fans. You could put a box of rare Hello Kitty merchandise on a volcano and they would risk life or limb racing to the summit, even if it means burning off both feet in streams of flaming molten lava, not to mention run a ’40km marathon’. They ain’t pussies, you know.

Contrast this with a ‘fun run’ involving another cartoon feline, Garfield, at $58 for a standard 3km stroll, which is ironic because Garfield is a grumpy, lazy, fat recluse who only occasionally dashes to the refrigerator for lasagna. Here’s a list of other physical activities that Hello Kitty partakes in which may qualify as actual exercise, and maybe future fun events too:

1) Tour de Kitty

2) Hello Kitty Yoga-thon

3)Hello Kitty Ballet-thon

4) Hello Kitty Ice-Skate-athon.

I can imagine the chaos if the inaugural Hello Kitty theme cafe ever opens in Singapore. Kiasu fans pitching lines of tents before opening day, breaking doors and windows while jostling their way in, crashing Instagram with their Kitty cafe posts, or stealing Hello Kitty teaspoons and napkins to sell online. Hello Kitty Riot.

Still, it’s somewhat refreshing that instead of launching another series of birthday plush toys at McDonalds, the Kitty empire decided to make Singaporeans put on their jogging shoes and get some exercise without eating Happy Meals. Maybe organisers should all learn from this unhappy episode and bring the SAF Volunteer Corps in as crowd control and help out with a fairer system of medal distribution for future races, to spare our Police the effort of intervening when people start fighting over medals as if they were rations during a famine.

PM Lee queuing for fried chicken wings

From ‘PM Lee spotted queuing 30min for chicken wings at Redhill Food Centre’, 13 June 2014, article in Asiaone.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was spotted at Redhill Food Centre, queueing for 30 minutes to buy fried chicken on Thursday night. A passerby took a photo and uploaded it on Facebook with the tongue-in-cheek caption: “Just your regular 50-60 plus uncle queueing half an hr for famous fried chicken wings. Albeit swarmed with guards. Lots of em.”

According to Lianhe Wanbao, the photo of him started circulating this morning, with many excited to see the PM dining at the hawker centre located at Blk 85 Redhill Lane. Netizens have praised the prime minister’s willingness to do queue for food himself just like any other member of the public, as well as immerse himself in the public community.

The Chinese daily learnt that the stall is the popular chicken wings and fried bee hoon stall Yan (#01-19). Online reviews recommended its two eponymous items, and cited reasonable prices and large portions as other plus points besides taste. Bee hoon costs 60 cents, while a chicken wing costs $1.20.

The minister also posted a picture of a dessert stall at the same hawker centre on his Facebook page, mentioning that the ‘Lucky Cat’ in front of it seemed to bring it popularity and business indeed. He also thanked an anonymous person for giving him a bowl of green bean soup.

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Wing Commander

Imagine the field day that ‘netizens’ would have if PM Lee had queued up for pork soup instead. It’s not a common sight to see a leader of his position actually queuing for stuff. Even less so for half an hour, enough time to make some key decisions of national importance. PM Lee looks solemn and pensive in the pose above, probably meditating on the fate of the nation, or plotting  to get Roy Ngerng to shut the hell up once and for all. I wonder what dessert he ordered after chicken wings though. I’m sure more people are interested in what he had than his musings on ‘Lucky Cat’. Ice Loong-an Jelly, perhaps?

‘Wayang’ or not, the person who snapped PM Lee has inadvertently promoted this humble breakfast bee hoon stall in Redhill, which blogger Hungry Bunny says is actually known as ‘Eng Kee’. I trust our PM has great taste in hawker fare. He’s known to be a fan of Tiong Bahru Tau Huay and Zion Road Char Kuay Teow too. Spotting him  at these stalls is like catching a rare migratory bird. You’d hit the jackpot if you catch him queuing at a Malay stall for Mee Siam (Just plain Mee Siam, thank you very much).

Here are some queuing PM Lee ‘memes’, sans bodyguards, of our leader simply blending in with ordinary Singaporeans in everyday situations other than buying hawker food, like the ‘People’s PM’ that adoring fans know him to be.

PM Lee in a Hello Kitty queue

PM Lee buying Lim Chee Guan

The lucky cat follows him EVERYWHERE.

PM Lee at Krispy Kreme

PM Lee taking peak hour MRT

And a World Cup bonus image.

Viva PM Lee

Viva PM Lee

 

Singaporeans queuing overnight for Krispy Kreme doughnuts

From ‘Krispy Kreme fans start queuing for doughnuts’, 11 Oct 2013, article by Mohd Azhar Aziz, Today

It seemed a promising start for the American doughnut giant with the queue for Krispy Kreme doughnuts starting from as early as 11.42am today (Oct 11), ahead of the store opening tomorrow. Yet, at about 10.30pm, there were only eight people in the queue at Tangs Orchard – after one person dropped out – with several curious onlookers.

“It is heartwarming to see fans of Krispy Kreme queuing up. We are expecting more to come to the place. But the night is still early,” said a Krispy Kreme spokesperson.

The opening of Krispy Kreme’s first store in Singapore, at Tangs Orchard Basement, has been a widely-anticipated affair with free doughnuts offered to the first three customers and goodie bags for the first 500 customers.

The first customer will win a one-year supply of the Original Glazed Doughnuts — a dozen doughnuts every week for an entire year. The runner up will be awarded with a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts every week for the next six months, while the third in line will get 12 doughnuts every week for the next three months.

MMMMM.. Doughnuts

MMMMM.. Doughnuts

When Singapore’s own Donut factory was established in 2007, thereby kickstarting the doughnut craze, this was how people queued at Raffles City Basement before the shop opened. A familiar sight whether it’s for a new HnM store, Hello Kitty, iPads of Bak Kwa.

D’oh! Nuts

If Donut Factory hadn’t set up shop within the mall premises, you would have had Singaporeans pitching tents overnight like how we do today. A promising start, but foiled by the likes of J Co, Vinco (later Dippin’ Donuts), Munchy Donut, and eventually Dunkin’ Donuts penetrating the market. The ‘donut craze’ of 2007-2008 filled a gaping hole in our appetite for deep-fried confectionery. In its hey-day, carrying a box of dozen around was a status symbol like flashing Lim Chee Guan bak kwa during CNY, and it was only a matter of time before the sugar-high and novelty began to wear off and we glazed over anything ‘Donut’.  Even the cops couldn’t save it from near extinction then.

By 2011, Donut Factory realised they couldn’t just sell donuts anymore, no matter how ‘artisan’ or exotically flavoured they made them. They experimented with ‘bon-bons’ or mini-donuts for the calorie-conscious. Then burgers, cakes, patisserie before going bust in June this year just after starting an online delivery service.  Enter Krispy Kreme, which until today has been the stuff of gastronomical legend and described by Singaporeans who tried it overseas as if it were manna from heaven or rare 1000 year old honey, a must-eat holy grail and the MOTHER OF ALL DOUGHNUTS , like the Haj for sweet-tooths. It’s also the only doughnut shop around that spells its products as ‘DOUGHNUTS’ and not ‘DONUTS’, though the deliberate misspelling of ‘Crispy Cream’ looks more to me like the name of a circus clown rapper than a donut joint (‘Yo give it up for MC Krispy Kreme!’).

Donut or doughnut, this sickly sweet snack is the comeback kid of food fads. In 1983, Dunkin Donuts landed in Singapore, and Mister Donut was scheduled to follow in June 1984, though I’m not sure if that actually opened shop here. DD disappeared for more than a decade and made a comeback at Ion Orchard in 2009, though even that flagship store has since closed down. With KK making its ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’-style appearance to bring out the greedy kid in all of us, rival DD has its work cut out.  As it is, they’re already diversifying with sandwiches, bagels and wraps, looking more like a Subway ripoff than a donut shop. In August this year, they came up with a bizarre star ‘donut’ to celebrate Ramadan, which will appeal to anyone below the age of 5. Things do not bode well if you make your donuts anything but ROUND.

At $2.60 for an original glazed, KK’s doughnuts are the most expensive to date, though you do get your money’s worth of calories (200), fat (12g) and sodium(95mg) for ONE doughnut.  A Snickers bar, in comparison, has 250 calories, the same amount of fat, and 120mg of sodium, and in my opinion more satisfying and value-for-money than chewing on air wrapped in deep fried dough. A KK doughnut also has SIX TIMES the amount of fat you get from one Goreng Pisang. A ‘Golden Ticket’ thus entitles you to a dozen doughnuts a week, or 144 g of fat, equivalent to 12 bars of snickers, or 72 freakin’ pieces of goreng pisangs. A Golden Ticket to a cardiac arrest, more like it. Does it come with a free bypass surgery, I wonder.

Getting fat isn’t the only thing you need to worry about if you overindulge in KK. An original glazed is made up of more than 50 INGREDIENTS, making it the McNugget of Donuts, including ‘dough conditioners’, corn maltodextrin and locust bean gum. It also has a seemingly innocuous preservative called BHT, or butylated hydroxytoulene, the same chemical we use in cosmetics, jet fuel and EMBALMING FLUID. If you leave a KK doughnut in a closed jar, it would probably remain intact and edible until the craze wears off once more. If this is the food of the Gods, then we must have been praying to very evil gods indeed.

I’m no doughnut market analyst, but I think we were all addicted and fell for Krispy Kreme BECAUSE it was relatively inaccessible and was ‘forbidden fruit (tastes the sweetest)’ prior to its launch here. When it starts popping up all over the island, it’ll be like hearing your favourite song on repeat airplay for at least a few months. They have successfully regressed us all into slobbering babies with their Golden ticket gimmick, and it’s only a matter of time before we wean off it. Does ‘Beard Papa’ (probably the best cream puff in the world) ring a bell? Anyone?

Singing Bone Hello Kitty selling for $126K

From ‘McDonald’s urges public to stop profiteering from Hello Kitty Plush Toys’, 27 June 2013, article by Rachel Tan, ST

The McDonald’s Hello Kitty plush toy craze has translated into a opportunities for online sellers to capitalise on the fad. Several advertisements selling the toy were seen just hours after they went on sale early Thursday morning. In one posting on eBay there were 125 bids for the “Singing Bone” model.

News of the online transactions have reached McDonald’s headquarters in Singapore – and the management is not happy about it. “We do not support people buying the Kitties for resale, and we have been regularly removing posts offering such services from our page. We take the conduct of our staff very seriously and if any of them are found to have misappropriated the Kitties for personal gain, we will not hesitate to take appropriate action,” the fast-food chain posted on their official Facebook page.

The toy has also resulted in a number of confrontations among consumers. According to Stomp, at McDonald’s Bukit Batok Central outlet, a policeman was asked to clear a dispute over people jumping queues.

Bad to the bones

The winning bid for a Blackface Kitty is a whopping $126,000 (turned out to be fake), and this being a country where people own million dollar HDB flats and $5 million dollar racecars, I’m not surprised that some fans are willing to fork out a ridiculous sum of money for a plush doll, one that’s not even studded with diamonds to begin with (Just for comparison, the famed Jewel Doll costs US$167,000). I suspect the reason why the Singing Bone is getting everyone in a tizzy is not that it’s limited edition (they all are), but because you can’t COMPLETE the collection without it. For a Singaporean, braving the haze overnight to finish your holy quest for the Last Kitty is a crowning achievement, like putting your hand on a car for days just to drive it home a winner. Kiasuparents folk are selling the same toy for $50. Pfft…amateurs.

McDonald’s ditched the ‘purchase with every meal’ promotion out of good intentions; to stop people from throwing away burgers and wasting food, as evident during the initial 2000 Kittydemic.  But as lucrative as this craze is for the company, you can’t help but wonder what founder Ray Kroc feels about this marketing sacrilege, that instead of rushing for old-fashioned American hamburgers, Singaporeans are saying ‘To Hell with Big Macs’ and thronging stores for Japanese dolls. A psychiatrist in 2000 called it ‘compulsive-acquisition syndrome’, I call it madness. Meanwhile, I can’t even order an Apple Pie from the counter because of these lunatics. How are those senior counter staff going to cope with demanding, violent Kitty addicts? McDonald’s might as well get rid of the tables and chairs and just fill their stores with snaking queue lines and armed guards, like a methadone clinic. They would also do well to equip all staff with parangs and tranquiliser darts to defend themselves in the event of a queue-jumper wrecking havoc like a bull in a china shop.

We should always prepare for Hello Kitty mob violence. In 2000, a glass door in a Boon Keng Macs was SHATTERED by the crowd, causing injuries to 7 customers, with 3 HOSPITALISED. 6 people were also arrested for making a nuisance of themselves. A DOCTOR and a lorry driver got into an ugly scuffle. There were even reports of fainting, traffic congestion and MOLEST. It’s the kind of rowdy looting you would expect in a famine or zombie infestation, yet no such ruckus has been reported for N95 face masks to date. Even if we were threatened with poison gas, I think Singaporeans would queue up calmly for gas mask or antidote supplies. Getting your lungs incinerated is a small matter compared to the shame of your neighbour snagging a Singing Bone while you HAVEN’T.

The Singing Bone, however, is not so much ‘fairy tale’ as it is a macabre horror story of revenge and FRATRICIDE. Few would bother to find out more about its origins and assume that the Kitty was inspired by the Nightmare before Christmas and is just a jolly feline skeleton that goes around distributing candy during Halloween. Like the Sirens that sent Greek sailors to their watery graves, the Singing Bone has lulled the nation into a stupor of compulsive queuing and quick regression into base savagery, flushing decades of courtesy campaigns down the toilet. It’s no coincidence that this Hello Kitty resembles a voodoo doll; it has infected us all with its dark, wicked spell. If you’re a parent, do your child a favour and tell the Singing Bone story at bedtime while he’s hugging the toy. Next thing you know he’ll be setting it on fire or brandishing a crucifix at the cursed thing.

As a money-spinner, Hello Kitty is a phenomenal success. As a branding exercise built around service, Happy Meals and the Golden Arches, it’s a CATastrophe.

Postscript: A fake alert was posted on the McDonald’s Facebook page according to Lianhe Zaobao once Singing Bone sold out, warning black market profiteers that the ‘Management Team’ would be working with the police to bring perpetrators of this outrageous scalping to justice. ‘Dissapointed’ is either a grotesque lapse in spelling or a deliberate combination of ‘dissed’ and ‘disappointment’. As if muckracking at outlets isn’t enough, some resort to impersonation to make sure that if they can’t have their Kitty, NO ONE ELSE WILL.

Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 7.23.40 AMi

A quarter million IKEA meatballs sold in a day

From ‘Almost 250,000 IKEA meatballs sold at 10 cents apiece yesterday’, 9 March 2013, Today online

Almost 250,000 meatballs were sold by IKEA yesterday at 10 cents apiece, as it marked the return of its meatballs at its Singapore stores. IKEA had stopped sales of its meatballs last week as a precautionary measure as it awaited DNA testing to confirm that IKEA meatballs sold here do not contain horse meat. This came after meatballs were pulled off IKEA menus in many parts of the world when it was discovered that IKEA meatballs in a European store had tested positive for horse meat.

The 249,375 meatballs sold by IKEA yesterday earned IKEA Singapore a place in the Singapore Book of Records for the ‘Most Number of Meatballs cooked and sold in a day’, according to a statement from IKEA Singapore.

For the whole of yesterday, 96,250 meatballs, weighing 1.54 tonnes, were sold in IKEA’s Alexandra store, while 153,125 meatballs, weighing 2.45 tonnes, were sold in its Tampines store.

Crowding with a chance of meatballs

According to a 2012 report, the average number of meatballs sold per day is 39,000, which makes the near 4 tonnes worth of 10 cent meatballs a SIXFOLD increase in a single day. From only TWO stores. You could create a meatball landslide with that amount, so imagine the avalanche that would result if the promotion had been on a WEEKEND. Who says Singaporeans don’t have ‘work-life balance’ when thousands can afford to queue up for meatballs on a workday? Many seem to have also forgotten that they once complained about the new recipe last year, when the balls were no longer as ‘firm’ as before. Doesn’t matter if taste or bounciness is compromised so long as it’s dirt cheap, so goes the Singaporean kiasuism mantra even if the meatballs were indeed tainted with horse, which frankly, is an animal that many locals don’t mind eating anyway. Along with mutton, it is one red meat that just about everyone can probably agree on. I, for one, would rather eat horse over, say, dog.

If there’s anything with an appetite for horse it would be our big cats at the Zoo, which in 1985 were fed with racehorse from our Turf Club. I wonder if we’d still gobble hundreds of millions of meatballs if it weren’t an equine scare but something more microscopic. Like faecal bacteria for example. It’s also a typically Singaporean trait to track such events as national record-busters in the form of the ‘Singapore Book of Records’. Being tiny as we are, breaking an island-wide record by blowing up mediocre activities to ridiculous scales doesn’t seem like a big deal. Unlike more impressive feats like ‘World’s Tallest Building’ or ‘World’s Strongest 2 year old’ where one showcases incredible feats of engineering, talent or strength, you have stuff like ‘Largest Mass Crab Walk‘. All you need is an idea of doing something so pointless no one ever thought of replicating it and hundreds of willing volunteers in a bid for charity or dying for silly exercise.

Some records are stating the obvious, like the Largest Garden (Cue the Largest number of people saying ‘Duuh’ at the same time). It’s also the Most Expensive Garden in Singapore (strangely the billion dollar price tag isn’t recorded). The most inexplicable record in my opinion: The most number of NON-SIKHs putting on Patkas together. Is there a ‘Most Non-Indians flipping Roti Prata’ or ‘Most number of Non-Chinese hurling Hokkien vulgarities’ too?

This is a record.

I could lead an event for most people twiddling thumbs at the same time and still earn a place in the book. In the IKEA horse scandal case, all you need to do is mark down an iconic cafeteria foodstuff till it’s almost free of charge, and your record-smashing accomplices will come without any coercion. Just to show how obsessed we are with food and scale, here’s a list of actual eating records from the SBR website. I swear none of these are made up. Singapore, you’ve totally outdone yourself this time. At this rate, we can probably achieve not just a Singapore Record, but a WORLD record for Most Fat people Stuffing their Mouths at one time too. In the meantime, the records keep snowballing – or rather – meatballing.

  • Largest number of people drinking herbal soup at the same time (600 bowls)
  • Largest Taiyaki (5,555 pieces)
  • Longest Swiss Roll (89.5 m)
  • Most mooncakes produced in one location (15,915 pieces)
  • Most people eating ice cream at the same time (1558 people)
  • Longest line of Roti John (32.3 m)
  • Most people eating chili crab together (431)
  • Most people eating hot dogs together (652)

The last one looks set to be broken if someone finds horse in IKEA’s weiners. 10 cent hotdogs anyone?