May 26, 2017

Authors Posts by Esther Au Yong

Esther Au Yong

Esther Au Yong

Michelin Guide SG

by Esther Au Yong

THE stars have been awarded and the queues – both physical and on reservation systems – have descended. Everyone has something to say about the 29 establishments that have been honoured in Singapore’s inaugural Michelin guide.

Here are five things you should know about the divisive awards:


1. Conflict of interest?
While Michelin has partnered, or worked closely, with tourism authorities before, such as in Hong Kong where it launched a guide in 2008, its collaboration with Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) – a “title partner” of the Singapore guide – has raised some eyebrows. A Bangkok-based restaurateur said, in a CNN report: “The Michelin Guide is the most respected and revered foodie guide in the world. I hope that it doesn’t get tainted by having sponsors’ dealings for the first time, at least publicly, in Singapore.” Four restaurants located at RWS – Forest, Osia, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Joel Robuchon Restaurant – were awarded stars last evening.


2. Cheapest meal… ever
Singapore has the distinction of being the host of the cheapest Michelin-star meal in the world. The cheapest offering at Soya Sauce Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle costs $2. That will get you a serving of “soya sauce chicken rice” – well, if you’re willing to queue, that is. The day after 51-year-old hawker Chan Hon Meng’s one-star award was announced, local media reported that there were already 21 people in the queue at 10.30am! The other hawker stall to garner a one-star rating is Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle in Crawford Lane.


3. Stepping stone elsewhere
It’s interesting to note that young one-star winner 32-year-old Malcolm Lee got a big boost in the early days of his career from another guide, the now-defunct Miele Guide, which ranked and showcased the top 20 restaurants in Asia. Mr Lee was the first recipient of the Miele Guide Culinary Scholarship, with which he attended At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy. He opened Candlenut Kitchen upon graduation. However, landlord issues and rental struggles forced him to close. He later reopened at Dorsett Residences, on New Bridge Road, and dropped the word “Kitchen” from the restaurant’s name. What should you eat at Candlenut? Definitely Yeye’s Kari, made using a recipe that has been passed down from Mr Lee’s great-grandfather.


4. Who has the most Michelin stars?
The world’s most decorated Michelin-star chef is Joel Robuchon. The French chef, who already had 25 stars in total, won five more last night, when three – the maximum – were awarded to Restaurant Joel Robuchon, and two to L’Atelier Robuchon. Both establishments are located at RWS.

Mr Robuchon celebrated his wins last night at the house of wine connoisseur and long-time friend Dr N K Yong. According to Icon Singapore, Mrs Yong, well known for being a great cook, made Mr Robuchon’s favourite mee goreng. He reportedly said, after finishing three plates of the noodles: “This to me is a three-star dish!”


5. Where are they?
Much lauded Modern European restaurant Iggy’s did not feature at all in this year’s list and many are wondering why. In the Miele Guide in 2008, it was No. 1 in the list of Asia’s Top 20 restaurants, with the two Michelin starred L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Hong Kong named as the runner up. Iggy’s is No. 18 in this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants List, which it had topped in 2012. Another award-winning restaurant which did not get a star was Burnt Ends, which debuted this year on The World’s Best 50 Restaurants List at No. 70.


Click here to get the list of newly-minted Michelin-star establishments, ranked by their average prices.


Featured image a screenshot from Michelin’s 2016 Singapore Guide press release.

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by Esther Au Yong

ARE you a SAHM, FTWM, WFHM or PTWM? That’s stay-at-home mum, full-time-working mum, work-from-home mum and part-time-working mum respectively.

And mama, do you BW, practise BLW or BF? That’s babywear, baby-led weaning and breastfeed.

Seriously, WTF and FFS. I’m not going to explain those.

The acronyms are all loaded to different degrees – it’s high time we be just Mothers. I have said this before and I’ll say it again: Mums are each other’s worst enemies. We judge, we assume, we define and we jump into conclusions about other mums too easily.

Let’s tackle one of the biggest challenges – and no doubt, blessing – a mother can face: breastfeeding.

Now, does it matter to you if another mother doesn’t breastfeed? To a lot of women, it matters very much.

When my elder son was two months old, I was shopping at a mall and had him in a baby carrier (so I guess that made me a BWMLM – baby-wearing maternity-leave mum). A sales assistant who looked like she was in her 40s approached us. “Oh is your baby drinking breastmilk?” she asked. A first-time mother, I replied rather hesitantly that no, I was not breastfeeding. I started to explain why (I simply had no milk) but I should have just told her to mind her own business. It wouldn’t have made a difference anyway as she simply would not hear it. “Rubbish! Every mother can make milk. Why do you choose not to give your son your milk?” she chided.

Things did not change two-and-a-half years later. A female stranger, about 50 years old, came up to me when I was feeding my second child, who was then three months old (I was a FFMLM – formula-feeding maternity-leave mum). “Are you breastfeeding?” she asked. No, I replied, this time rather defiantly. “Why? Do you not have milk or did you choose not to?” she demanded.

Like I said, FFS. Here’s the thing: While breast is best, it is also only one part of what it is to be a mother. Is it necessary to be so judgmental?

There are so many ways to mother, whether you work full time, choose to stay home with the kids or if you’re going through a challenging time of your own. There are countless ways to care for your child, be it having him or her in a baby carrier or in your arms; labouring over the stove each day to make fresh food with no preservatives or ordering in because you’re just too damn tired to cook; letting your baby co-sleep on your bed or “training” him to sleep in his own room from Day 1. Motherhood is a many-splendoured thing.

I think we need to learn the R-word: Respect.

My gynaecologist, a man, put a lot of mums to shame when I told him I couldn’t breastfeed at my check-up 10 days after the birth of No. 2. He put down his pen, closed my file, looked at me and with a kind smile, he asked, “How do you feel about that? Are you okay with it?” It was something even I did not know I needed to hear.

He cared and supported me as a mother, and most importantly, respected my mothering choices.

We can be better mothers together, by being kinder to each other. Happy Mother’s Day!


Esther Au Yong is a mother of two young children and TMG’s Lifestyle Editor.

This piece is a part of our Mother’s Day series of columns, showcasing the views and experiences of real mums in Singapore. Read Pam’s, Jean’s and Brenda’s pieces, and check out our video too. 


Featured image 11 – お母さん, UFO だよ! by Flickr user Seika. (CC BY 2.0). 

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Here are the places on the Internet that are worth your clicks this week:

Finally, Leo!

Yes, the man has finally won an Oscar! And that calls for… memes, of course.

Click here for a selection of notables ones, such as this:


Winning together

Here’s a lesson from the kids – don’t put people down, bring them up:


Hack your life

Hate to watch the ads on YouTube? Accidentally text the wrong person? Learning Petals community has put out the solutions to these issues – or, ahem, #firstworldproblems – and more. Here’s a preview:


You’re welcome!


Bracelet trick

Have trouble putting on bracelets? We’ve been there. Here’s the trick:




Hands-less pants?

Still in the spirit of helping you live life better, we’ll just put this here…:


Compiled by Esther Au Yong

Featured image Internet by Flickr user Ministerio TIC Colombia

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HERE’S what’s worth your clicks on social media this week:


Now, there’ve been numerous Donald Trump memes and jokes going around over the years. The most notable ones have been about his hair – remember the one where scientists discovered a bright yellow caterpillar that looked like Trump’s hair running away?

Well, his lips are the new focus. Someone has edited a photo of him by replacing his eyes with his lips. The result? He looks exactly the same. Presenting the man who could be America’s next President:

DonaldTrumpEyesPhoto by Twitter user @recordsandradio

We’re speechless.



Indian ad guys are giving the Thais a run for their money as masters of the “inspirational tearjerkers” genre.

This one, by Ariel India, P&G and BBDO Worldwide, shows how fathers and husbands can take small steps (like doing laundry) to share the load at home. They hope to help create more equal homes. The grouping won a Glass Lion at the 2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for some earlier work on the same campaign.

Wear your plants

The succulents craze is still going strong – this time, they’ve been made into jewellery.

Thankfully, they’re not tacky. Will you wear them?

gallery-1455815445-il-fullxfull868565632-1d4lPhoto from

gallery-1455815526-living-succulent-plant-jewelry-passionflower-susan-mcleary-1Photo from


Kitchen experiments

Singapore might be a cosmopolitan city where you can buy almost whatever you might want, but sometimes, we just want to make it ourselves.

Here’s how to DIY your own exotic food:

Brazilian Toasted Cassava Flour Farofa

Banh Mi Burger

Mochi Brownies


Compiled by Esther Au Yong 

Featured image L’espace internet du musée de la Communication (Berlin) by Flickr user Jean-Pierre Dalbéra. CC BY 2.0

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For breaking news, you can talk to us via email.