“We always joke about how we’d come together and set up a café.” Prolific blogger Alexis Cheong comes from a clan of foodies. Her parents ran a Thunder Tea Rice stall that was rated six chopsticks by the Makansutra food guide, and her siblings hold positions in food consultancy and management roles in nutrition and restaurants — food runs in her blood! Alexis herself helms a food blog which attracts more than 17,000 visitors per month. On top of extensive research, she prides herself on her process: “I have a personal policy, if the food isn’t good or can be improved upon, I won't write about it” — and this makes her readers trust that they are being introduced to gems in Singapore’s culinary scene.
How did the journey of becoming a food critic begin?
“In the past, we used to go out for dinners and my dad would always ask what I thought of my meals. So, I would give my criticism, and that was how I learned to review food — by talking to my dad!”
What’s an average week in Singapore like for you?
“I work in the advertising industry but my real passion lies in food and travel. I actually receive two to three tasting invites a week. On the weekends, I go for Zumba classes with my friends, and then put all the calories we’ve burnt right back on by café hopping immediately after!”
What sets the Singapore food scene apart from the rest of the world?
“I think the cool thing about Singapore is that it has so many different cultures, which results in an extensive range of cuisines in one tiny space. It’s something we sometimes take for granted! Having just returned from Japan, I feel the food there is rather homogenous compared to what we have here.”
What’s your favourite…and why?
Hawker Centre to eat at?
“The hawker centre at Old Airport Road — they have very good rojak (fruit and vegetable salad dish)."
Café to chill?
“Stranger’s Reunion at Kampong Bahru. Great coffee and waffles.”
Hangout joint with friends?
“Kabuke — it’s a sake bar and gastropub in Telok Ayer near my office and has a wonderful atmosphere and food.”
Place to eat at in Changi Airport?
Weekend brunch choice?
“Birdy’s at Upper Thomson has the best scrambled eggs on toast!”
What would you recommend travellers to do and see in Singapore?
“Go to Chinatown, take a walk and get something to eat, then go to Little India to experience the atmosphere — it’s like traveling to India without being in India! After that, go to Marina Bay Sands and have a drink at the CÉ LA VI Sky Bar while admiring the view from the top. It's amazing to take in the whole of Singapore from there especially at night! Make sure to catch the free light show at 8pm by the bay while you’re there too.”
Any parting remarks for visitors to Singapore?
“If you’re thinking of a place to eat at, the best thing to do is ask a local! In Singapore, I’m pretty sure nine out of ten would love to share their recommendations and most would have some interesting spots you can’t find in tourism guides.”
With more than 770 restaurant reviews completed, Alexis still feels that there’s so much more to explore in Singapore’s dynamic food scene. The diversity and dedication of its culinary experts imbues Singapore with a wealth of gastronomic treasures (with more than 6,600 registered eateries on this tiny Island!). If you’re planning a trip to Singapore and not sure what to eat, and most importantly, where to eat, check out Alexis’s blog and the plethora of food recommendations on Now Boarding.
This is the second article of our ‘Live Like a Local’ series featuring Singaporeans and their authentic stories. Read another Singaporean’s story here.