[Click HERE if you want a quick summary of what one blogger thought about the night. Read on if you want a boring lenghthy life story]
[Click HERE if you want to sign up for Goz's last shindig before he takes off on a short hiatus on a secret project to subvert Singaporean misconceptions and avert stir fry calamities]
Sometime back, we were sent an invite to do a supperclub session at the Supperclub Summit at the Goethe Institute but it went largely ignored partly because of general ennui and procrastination and mostly because I just could not fathom the thought of (a) feeding over 50 people, and (b) being an highly annnal control freak (allegedly), cooking in any kitchen other than my own, whilst still maintaining the quality of food, the intimate cosy setting and sense of nostalgia and homeliness I try to create with each supperclub.
Then, someone asked if we were doing anything for Singapore National Day and that got me thinking.
And by curious coincidence, thanks to us being the last supperclub to sign up to this, the only date left available was 8 August, the day before Singapore National Day but if we are being pedantic, as Singapore is 7 hours ahead of us, it would be National Day in Singapore when we started our dinner.
And so it seemed the culinary stars were all aligned.
Last year’s National Day, I did two seatings in a day at my supperclub which nearly killed us. Maybe its just bold faced stupidity, newfound patriotism or steadfast stubbornness, but with that memory of all the cooking and washing up inbetween and overnight and the countless acrimonious threats of unfriending and unsavoury usage of sharp or blunt implements of any kind still fresh, raw and bloody in my head, we got in touch with the Supperclub Summit and locked 8th August in.
At the risk of (kueh)pie(tee)throwing, I would say this – Singaporeans are a quirky breed of humans, especially the ones overseas. We spend an awful lot of time complaining, griping and ranting about Singapore – the heatwave, the rigid bureaucracy, the lack of freedoms, arts, music and culture and generally all things government related.
So you would think that on the day institutionalized by the government to celebrate and expound all things Singaporean, that Singaporeans overseas would shun it and avoid it like a plague/plate of cold tasteless food court chicken rice.
But for some reason unbeknownst to the greatest of human minds (and goz’s), everytime we advertise a Singaporean National Day event, it goes mad viral and everyone gets all giggly and excited over it like a new found bubble tea/ portugese egg tart/ jam/ tau hway/ yakitori/ cream puffs/ takoyaki / [insert new fad] store in Singapore. Weird huh?
This time was no different. Despite being the last supperclub to sign up, we were the first to sell out within 4 days. And with an extensive waitlist to boot, which even included officials from a Singaporean quasi-governmental body.
Furthermore, on the day itself, we stated in our email that it was red or dead and implored everyone to wear red – just like everyone would have done at the National Day Parade in Singapore and boy did everyone put in an effort – We had red white dress combos, we had red ties, we even had someone who claimed to be wearing red undies (we believed him)!
Maybe it is because it is so uncool for Singaporeans to openly declare it but they all innately secretly really do love their country like a guilty secret. A bit like cheesy 80s pop tunes, bananarama and rick astley? Maybe its because Singaporeans generally love good food and would find just about any excuse to part-ay? Who knows. Whatever it is, looking at how many Singaporeans signed up eagerly for this and how many were on the waitlist, will always warm the patriotic humm (aka blood cockles) of my heart.
But we didn’t only have random homesick secret patriot Singaporeans. We had old friends, colleagues, regulars, new faces from all nationalities from China to Italians in the house. It was a noisy wild riotous mix.
Greatest hits and Mambo beats
It was like a supperclub mixtape of the greatest hits of plusixfive. We set the tone of the night by beginning with a short speech about nostalgia and family feasts and how the sound of a ringing bicycle bell will always remind us of the days gone by when the satay man would around the neighbourhood selling snacks and satay from a rickety barbecue precariously perched on the back of his bicycle, flouting just about every road safety and health and safety law if there were any back then. We had done up a menu for everyone but, being never one to shy from food extravagance, went slightly overboard and chucked in a few other extra items at the last minute. We had good morning towels, curry puffs served in brown bags and chwee kueh in brown oil drenched paper tied up with a rubber band and satay slapped on banana leaves, we had braised duck, we had cuttlefish lettuce cups, we even had speciality Singapore Sling made by our fav Hoxton speakeasy, Happinessforgets.com, we had it all.
Bonus points also went to any guests who recognized the songs being played in the background.
8th August conveniently fell on a Wednesday and tied in with the concept of nostalgia, we also decided on a playlist of good ole 80s cheese pop tunes. Any Singaporean worth their salt in all things cool would have grown up spending many a blurry Thursday morning nursing a hangover from partying at Mambo at Zouk on Wednesday where a catalogue of the best (and, arguably, worst) tunes from the 80s would be spun and rows and rows of pimply teenagers would uniformly succinctly perform synchronized dancing, signing every word of every song as if they all practiced the night before together in their bedrooms (and they probably did). I always thought this was probably the strangest local phenomenon (besides reserving seats with tissue paper packets) and would look incredibly curious to any outsiders – to see all these kids dance drone-like to the same tune with the same actions – it must have seemed like a strange experiment in early cloning to some.
To the superheroes of plusixfive
When this whole shindig of a supperclub started over a year and a half ago, it was just me. I could never in my wildest dreams imagine it to be what it is today. And what it has grown into. I would never have thought we would get mentioned in various national press in the UK and Singapore or that I would ever end up feeding over 50 people in South Kensington. But most of all, I would never have imagined that plusixfive would grow into something beyond just me and into an amorphous motley crew of a collective.
So thank you to everyone who made this possible – everyone who cooked, fried, massaged ducks, sliced, chopped, plated, listened to me shout and bark orders, served, danced, chit chatted, drank, spun yarns of tales, and loved every guest that came through the door that night.
And most of all, thank you to everyone who came and warmed my humm.
(amazing photo credits go to Joyce @londontastin / londontastin.com , grace hui, yen lin)