Haw Biscuit

Haw Biscuit

Ang Wei Tyng, 6″ by 4″, Oil on board, 2010


This haw biscuit is my childhood snack. My mom would always buy the rectangular versions which are less processed and tell me its the same stuff. I would always think she is lying. When I was young, I didn’t know how haw looks like (actually I still don’t) and I would tell her she is talking rubbish cos the version she gets tastes horrible. When I was painting this, my teacher asked me what is it and I realise I didn’t know either. I just had to say the small cylindrical brown sweet snack and everyone would usually get the idea. So much for growing up with it, I took it for granted and never looked it up. I just know the original stuff looks like bing ta hulu you get in China. But whether it grows on tree or something else… hm… anyone knows?


So Ta Pia



So Ta Pia

Ang Wei Tyng, 6″ by 4″, Oil on board, 2010

So ta pia (wheat biscuit), in my childhood memory has always been a snack for old people. It was tasteless  and boring. It was the most devastating thing back then when my mom asked me to eat that for breakfast. I would do anything and everything from sprinkling sugar, spreading jam and dipping into my milo just to make the whole ordeal more tasty. But as I grew older, my opinion of it changed and I find it fragrant and delicious now. Seems like my initial mindset that it is a snack for old people remains true.

Half Boiled Egg in Bowl

Half Boiled Egg in Bowl

Khan Liheng Benjamin, 6″ by 4″, Oil on board, 2010

The half boiled egg is a dish that can be found in Singapore and other neighbouring countries. Singaporean food connoisseurs follow a strict tradition when partaking of this delicacy: a couple of organic eggs boiled for about three minutes, a small red ceramic dish as container, a metal teaspoon to crack the eggs if neccessary, and pepper and soy sauce condiments.

Most foreigners are repulsed by the manner in which it is eaten, including using the teaspoon, dipping kaya toast into the liquid, and drinking it directly from the dish, but the brave few who try find that the dish is light, soupy, and possesses a ethereal quality to it not quite equaled by anything else. The best part has to be the pricing: $1.50 for 3 eggs outside, and almost free when cooked at home.

My mother used to cook this dish for me every Saturday morning before I left for my Co-Curricular Activities, and I always enjoyed it as I had complete control over the amount of soy sauce I could place in it. If I was late, I could gulp it down and rush out the door in an instant. But the most enjoyable aspect had to be how sublime the texture of the dish was.  In fact, I shall go make some right now!

Kueh Lapis


Foo Danyu, 6″x4″, Oil on Board, 2010

When I think of acquired taste I think of kueh lapis. (Alright, so I admit, there are a few other food choices that could be brought up but I’m very sure I’ll think of kueh lapis first.) Acquired taste is one of those really strange things I can’t entirely get my head around. How do you acquire taste? What makes you love sweet milk chocolate one day and realise that you need to chug down an entire bottle of water after a bite the next week?

When it comes to this kueh here, there comes a sneaking suspicion that it’s probably because this is the only cake you can get at bengawan solo at the airport that will last you more than a week in a china refrigerator. The most popular choice for my mother’s last-minute airport shopping for little goodies that will distract us a little from the (initially) slightly mediocre breakfast (it’s improved greatly now) selection back in Suzhou, the kueh lapis lasts us for around a week and a half without going hard or tasting weird. Two slices for breakfast is just about nice.

(And really, when your other option is bread that crumbles the moment you try to fold it in half, there’s nothing more heavenly than bengawan solo’s kueh lapis.)

— to give Suzhou some credit you can actually find very good bread there now.

Continue reading ‘Kueh Lapis’

Pineapple Jam Biscuits

Pineapple Jam Biscuits

Khan Liheng Benjamin, 6″ by 4″, Oil on board, 2010

Pineapple jam biscuits are readily available in most dedicated biscuit shops, pasar malams (night markets) and provision shops in Singapore and other neighbouring regions stretching as far as Penang. Continue reading ‘Pineapple Jam Biscuits.’

Bird’s Nest



Bird's Nest in a red box

Bird's Nest in a red box

Bird's Nest in a red box

Lee Jun Yi
Singaporean, b. 1987 

4" x 6"
Oil on board

The scarlet of the box
Signified the auspicious
And luxurious nature
Of the unassuming jewels it contained:

Three neatly arranged
Generically tart-shaped items,
Whose graying translucence
Paled in comparison to the actual box that held it.

Yet, they commanded a price
that only the rich could barely afford.

The “Bird’s Nest” is
the hardened remains
of a swift’s regurgitatory material –
its once-adhesive qualities gone;
it now rests on a shelf
awaiting consumption.

Grandma said
You need to eat them a lot
If you want beautiful skin
On your children.

I loved bird’s nest;
Cooked in a broth,
Its munificent sweetness
Rivaled cotton candy.

I always pondered how
the dried up salivary remnant of a bird;
bereft of smell,
Could magically adopt palatability
once converted to potage.

Years later it dawned upon me
That the tastefulness
Relied on the same recipe in cotton candy –
Sugar cane derive.

The Cauliflower


The Cauliflower

The Cauliflower

Lee Jun Yi
Singaporean, b. 1987 

4" x 6"
Oil on board

The “Cauliflower” is
Hardly a flower:

Pale in color;
Hard in texture;
It is shaped almost
Like a broccoli.

As a kid I looked
at a stalk of cauliflower;
Its fractal patterns called to mind
Imagined worlds where
Sentient insects dwell.

It is almost tasteless,
Save a subtle vegetable taste.

As if it was not confusing enough
it is often coupled with broccoli in a dish,
making it even harder for a kid
To tell the two apart.

I heard of a Man-induced condition
Called cauliflower ears.
Boxers revered them
For they meant good valor.

Before the advent of the digital age,
I wondered if such ears looked pretty;
Like the infinite patterns
of a cauliflower plant,
Inspiring literature
And artistic endeavor alike.

Then I saw a photo
On Wikipedia the other day.

The puffed up fibrous tissue of the ear
Reminded me more of a curry puff [i]
Than the elegant cauliflower

And I thought
Maybe Nature is still
The best Artist of all.

[i] The curry puff is a popular pie-like snack found in the Southeast Asian region, of Malay origin. It commonly contains potato and chicken, served within a crusty shell.