Ever wondered how food must be like for our fathers or grandfathers ? Ever wondered if food is like fashion ? Some dishes comes and goes out of date but I think, unlike fashion, the old recipes never came back.

The Jumping Tables is a gathering organised by David Yip aka Gastronaut. The sole purpose is to bring some life back to such old recipes, to let the public once again have a chance to taste them. Having an old heart myself, I hang around the older folks and am always intrigue to hear about them speak about food they ate and then followed a sigh that they are taken over by a generation that demands fast and quick meals. Shortcuts were develop for such recipes and that they do not make it like they used to anymore.

“Lost art, the new has no feelings”

Or was it because the food these days are much refined and the recipes are improved from the past ? They taste better now ?

Master Chef Sin Leong is 86 years old this year. He is still at his restaurant everyday, overseeing things, barking instructions. A national treasure no doubt with a long list of accolades starting from the 1960s. Being part of the 4 Heavenly Chefs which made the headlines then, he was like a superstar. Check the blogs of Leslie and David, you can read all about him there.

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From left : Sin Leong, Hooi Kok Wai, Tham Yui Kai and Lau Yoke Pui. The Four Heavenly Kings of Singapore. Tham and Lau has since passed on.

Source : moe.edu.sg

But how many of the younger generation know this ? Google his restaurant “Red Star (红心酒家), the queues for Dim Sum on the weekends has crazy queues which even his 50 odd tables restaurant cannot fulfill. You have to queue outside the restaurant and even to the next floor below. Yet, you will find many bloggers and customers, especially the young ones complaining about the dim sum he serves. Yeah, Dim Sum is in fashion now, everyone serves Dim Sum with updated recipes or even fusion stuffs, but we have totally forgotten that Sin Leong’s strengths are not his Dim Sum but his amazing repertoire of recipes for a grand 10 course Chinese dinner.

Had the pleasure today of being invited by the Jumping Table to savor these old recipes that has since disappeared from our table.

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Very Nostalgic……see the stage ? We are still stuck in the 1970s 🙂

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Long list of accolades……60-70 years of them !!

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These are the hands that will cook our dinner tonight.

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Sin Leong insists that we go take a look at this Master’s Altar, the one who taught him his skills, Master Luo Cheng. He spoke fondly of him. And the rules and heart of his cooking he establishes himself in 1962. To translate roughly, it means being a cook is like being a doctor, he cooks whats good for you and all things must be taken seriously. Respect.

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Master Chef Sin Leong and Master Chef Hooi Kok Wai. Very hands on, barking instructions, perfectionist in their own way. Someone commented that some of the chefs look extremely nervous. I suppose this was Gordon Ramsey style before he is Gordon Ramsey now.

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The man never forgets his jacket if there is a photographer in the house !

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Photo : Mark Ong. Sin Leong spared no efforts in tonights dinner. He even took out his “heavenly” gold cutleries…….. 🙂

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Photo : Mark Ong. This starter dish had every one starting to salivate. Especially, the deep fried chicken liver balls with salted egg yolks.

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Photo : Mark Ong. This one had all the ladies screaming with delight. Double boiled chicken stuffed with bird’s nest. Master Chef Sin Leong was being generous,the whole bird is stuff with bird’s nest. Bird’s Nest is supposed to be very good for the skin and is a high value item.  An article mentioned that it can cost up to USD2,000 per gram !! Yes, PER GRAM !Red Star Sin Leong 24

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Master Chef Sin Leong signing autographs.

How many more chances would i get to eat food cooked by the hands of the Master Chefs and these old recipes ? They are all already in their 70s or 80s.  Tham Yui Kai, Lau Yoke Pui has already passed on…….

The question remains whether these foods can and will still be accepted by the younger generation ? Updated recipes and tastes today calls for  dishes like black pepper wagyu beef, salted egg prawns, oatmeal butter crabs.  None here.

But for me, Jumping Tables……More Please !!!

Written by urbanarchiver

Curious about things around me, interested in photography, likes to eat, read comics, cut out newspaper articles, me travel a lot, like to crack lousy jokes, likes to be alone, trying to run a mile in 20 mins, hate chill peppers, crazy for fashion, not enough money, has a Leica, like contradictions.

8 comments

  1. love the kitschy look and feel of the 70s at Red Star. We go there with our dad as it’s his regular dim sum haunt, notwithstanding we much prefer the quality of dim sum at crystal jade. it’s a one-of-a-kind place, hope they keep the decor as is given S’pore is so full of already chi chi type dim sum places.

  2. Wow, looks like you knew the chef or someone in your party did– the bird’s nest dish alone tells me that. The spread is pretty impressive, but like you said, people are fickle, you have to do something “edgy” every few years to stay current.

    1. yup, it was a special night where one of the guys invited Chef Sin Leong out from his semi retirement to prepare the dishes. Food was good ! But I wonder if they are considered to be “out of fashion” today ?

      1. Most probably yes. You’d need to Eleven Madison Park-it up with tiny portions and eclectic ingredients, finished with some vapor of smoked duck or something lol. But the classics are always good.

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