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T’s Guide to Staying at Home, and Making the Best of It

By T: The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore

Clockwise from top left: At their home, makeup artists Tinoq Russell Goh and Dylan Chan prepare mee siam; the green soup of Bali-based nutritionist Eve Persak; a selection of soap bars and gels for the face; self-taught horticulturalist Joanna Chuah tends to her edible rooftop garden.
 
Clockwise from top left: At their home, makeup artists Tinoq Russell Goh and Dylan Chan prepare mee siam; the green soup of Bali-based nutritionist Eve Persak; a selection of soap bars and gels for the face; self-taught horticulturalist Joanna Chuah tends to her edible rooftop garden.

At a time when self-isolation is urged, “social distancing” — not commuting, not dining out, saying no to that party you really didn’t want to go to anyway — can also open up some unexpected opportunities for those with time on their hands: to try a new recipe, work out from the comfort of your own home, catch up on some reading and tackle any organizing projects you haven’t gotten around to yet.

Below, T recommends some activities for riding out the quarantine, whether self-imposed or not, while preserving your sanity and sense of purpose.

Tung PhamTinoq Russell Goh’s traditional prawn mee siam.
Tinoq Russell Goh’s traditional prawn mee siam.

A Makeup Artist’s Mee Siam, Inspired by His Multi-Ethnic Kampong Childhood

As a curious and constantly hungry child, makeup artist Tinoq Russell Goh frequented the kitchens of his neighbours, learning how to cook diverse dishes by watching and helping the “bibiks, nyonyas, makciks” cook massive portions to share with as many people as they could possibly invite in. Goh fondly recalls the mee siam — a Thai-inspired Peranakan noodle dish — as a particular childhood favourite. Inspired by this memory, Goh makes his own mee siam recipe.

How To Make a Pizza-Banh Mi

A self-professed “food bro”, the Singaporean chef and restaurant owner Bjorn Shen has always had an unapologetic knack for executing comfort food, a when-the-parents-aren’t-home type of inventiveness. Shen takes inspiration from McDonalds’ Big Mac and does a mental jot-down of Doritos’ flavour notes. At Small’s — his new four-seat pizza omakase — the proverbial parents are never home. For T, Shen creates one of the staples from Small’s 12-course menu: A pizza-banh mi hybrid where he lumps together the classic ingredients of a banh mi in a hoagie-like wrap.

What to do With Mushrooms — a Bhutanese Chef Makes Meatless Dumplings

Chef Tshering Lhaden has spent near to a decade working in the different kitchens of COMO’s hotels and resorts around the world. Before her current post at Singapore’s COMO Cuisine restaurant, she was at COMO Uma Punakha, a lodge situated within the subtropical haven that perches on the remote western curve of Punakha Valley. Lhaden would have her staff forage for wild mushrooms around the site and use these harvests to make her signature momos, Tibetan dumplings that are typically filled with anything from yak cheese to minced pork or chicken. When she moved to Singapore, she brought along her meatless momo recipe.

Tung PhamBlack Tap’s Sour Power Milkshake.
Black Tap’s Sour Power Milkshake.

How To Create a Crazy Milkshake

Black Tap Soho’s general manager, Peter Caporal has been making “crazy shakes” since the day the first Black Tap opened. Now part of Caporal’s job is to travel around the world and teach new restaurant’s staff how its signature over-the-top dessert drinks are made. Here, Caporal shows how the Sour Power milkshake is made.

Phillip Lim’s Garlic Fried Shrimp

When the New York-based fashion designer Phillip Lim missed his mother’s meals, he embarked on a self-educating journey. He went to his local grocery store for ingredients, and set about recreating his mother’s stir-fried basil ginger chicken at home. “It was just the sheer olfactory memory,” he says. “The taste was so present in my head that day that I could actually break down what I thought the ingredients were — she never told me about them.”  Lately, he’s been getting back to the basics. Take his garlic fried shrimp: it’s a dish he came up with while entertaining at his Long Island house. Watch Lim make it in the kitchen of his SoHo home.

Tung Pham. Styled by Michelle KokT’s selection of soap bars and balm cleansers.
T’s selection of soap bars and balm cleansers.

A Gentle Alternative to Facial Washes: Soap Bars & Balm Cleansers

The humble bar of soap is returning back in favour as a good, efficient and eco-friendly facial cleanser. However most dermatologists will not recommend the supermarket-bought bar soap, as many of these contain harsh surfactants that strip your skin’s natural oils and its moisture barrier, leading to dry and irritated skin. T Singapore’s editor Renée Batchelor recommends four soap bars and gels for the face.

Get Healthier Through Listening

Now that we’re months into the not-so-pleasant year, it’s statistically likely that whatever health resolutions you set for 2020 have already lost their lustre. Luckily for those in need of some straightforward training tips and expert motivation to help get back on track, plenty of coaches and nutritionists are available in audio form. Other shows explore health through individual stories of survival, endurance and transformation, or through candid interviews in which guests reflect on their psychological struggles. Whatever version of wellness you’re seeking, here are seven podcasts to get you in better physical and emotional shape.

How to Choose the Best Clay Mask for Your Skin

The latest wave of clay treatments come in innovative new formats — from soft creams to sheet masks to customisable powders — that can help clear out pores with minimal irritation (and frustration). Here, four tips for choosing the best mask for your skin type and schedule.

Tommaso RivaThe Bali-based nutritionist Eve Persak makes batches of her green soup with fresh, antioxidant-rich vegetables such as kale, broccoli and turmeric. “I doctor it with whatever add-ons match my palate, mood and needs,” she says.
The Bali-based nutritionist Eve Persak makes batches of her green soup with fresh, antioxidant-rich vegetables such as kale, broccoli and turmeric. “I doctor it with whatever add-ons match my palate, mood and needs,” she says.

If you prefer green soup to golden milk, though, the nutritionist Eve Persak has an alternative: a concoction comprising chopped vegetables, herbs, avocado and, yes, a bit of turmeric.

How to Care for the Scalp

Your scalp may not be an area that gets a lot of attention, but its health and balance are vital for good hair. The scalp is one of the areas that first reveals the effects of poor life choices, such as extreme diets or stress. Here, a dermatologist suggests some good scalp care practices.

Tung PhamMake the most out of your rooftop space with container gardening.
Make the most out of your rooftop space with container gardening.

How to Start Your Own Edible Rooftop Garden

24-year-old would-be lawyer Joanna Chuah is a self-taught horticulturalist who runs her own rooftop garden of edible herbs and flower. Chuah’s rooftop garden is not the classic green roof that requires substrates of soil as its foundation: She does container gardening. The space, blanketed with grass carpet, is brimming with little elevated plots and pots — lined on the ground or stacked on shelves. The bustling clusters of herbs, flowers, fruit trees and vegetables make for a shambolic beauty. Here, Chuah shares how you can start and maintain a verdant roof.

The culinary world already has a specific term for the organization required in the kitchen: mise en place, a French phrase denoting the meticulous work space of a chef. Ellen Bennett, the Los Angeles-based founder and C.E.O. of the lifestyle brand Hedley & Bennett (and a former line cook), breaks down how to achieve the perfect mise en place in your own kitchen.

Dylan ThomasDoor handle samples, a resin butterfly from the Bosco Dei Tartufi resort and a plaque that reads, “What would Beyoncé do?” inhabit the interior designer Beata Heuman’s’s vast India Jane desk, which was passed on from her father-in-law.
Door handle samples, a resin butterfly from the Bosco Dei Tartufi resort and a plaque that reads, “What would Beyoncé do?” inhabit the interior designer Beata Heuman’s’s vast India Jane desk, which was passed on from her father-in-law.

A British Interior Designer’s Tricks for Staying Organised

The office of interior decorator Beata Heuman is a testament to her desire to both beautify and meticulously organise her world. In her office, labels come liberally, each object has a home, and storage is a mix of modern Ikea shelves and utilitarian furniture from a reclaimed expert. If you’re looking for something to pass the time while housebound, you might try replicating some of her techniques, outlined here.

A Disconnected Way of Living

In a time when self-isolation is necessarily decreed, could off-grid living be the answer? Social documentary photographer Ed Gold visited a small community in South Wales where residents lived in yurts — and decided to live with them for one summer. But his journey to document off-grid communities led himself to be part of one.

On the cusp of turning 40, a reader finds herself at a personal and professional crossroads. Megan O’Grady, one of T’s Culture Therapist advice columnists, has some ideas for how to navigate what comes next.

From left: Lab-grown strawberries; tattoo artist Sumithra Debi; a selection of dishes served at FatFuku; the Singaporean singer-songwriter JJ Lin.
From left: Lab-grown strawberries; tattoo artist Sumithra Debi; a selection of dishes served at FatFuku; the Singaporean singer-songwriter JJ Lin.

T’s 10 Best Stories on Singapore From 2019

A compilation of some of our greatest, long-form hits of 2019: A profile of Singaporean singer-songwriter JJ Lin, a chronicle of three women who reconstruct beauty for others, a look at Singapore’s space-savvy urban architectures — and more

The New Generation of Self-Created Utopias

For an alternate perspective on social isolation, you might consider learning more about intentional communities: off-the-grid collectives where residents share duties of cooking, farming, governing and finances. “If there is any sense of romanticism running through the community,” writes Mike Mariani, “it lies in the notion that none of us, actually, have to be complicit to political, social and economic forces with which we don’t agree.”

Bianca HusodoFramed by the centuries-old silver beech trees on Anchor Island — the gateway to Captain James Cook’s maiden arrival in New Zealand — a glimpse of Dusky Sound’s sun-dappled fjords.
Framed by the centuries-old silver beech trees on Anchor Island — the gateway to Captain James Cook’s maiden arrival in New Zealand — a glimpse of Dusky Sound’s sun-dappled fjords.

A Foraging Journey Through the Lands and Seas of New Zealand

For T’s most recent “Holiday” issue, T Singapore’s writer Bianca Husodo made her way to New Zealand’s hidden enclaves — through the islets of Dusky Sound in the south and the sheep-dotted hills of Palliser Bay in the north — to discover what makes its lands, waters, and its culture, unique. She did so in a distinctly immersive way: by trailing three cooks in a foraging journey.

Why Does Rage Define ‘Parasite’ and Other Popular East Asian Movies?

The central object in the director Bong Joon Ho’s newest film, “Parasite,” which won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is a suseok, or an ornamental rock. Scholar’s rocks, as they are also called, represent the unity of humans and the cosmos as venerated in Confucianism. They are formed by nature into aesthetically pleasing shapes — and, as we soon learn in “Parasite,” are harbingers of good luck. Like “Parasite”, many thriller and horror films from Japan, China and South Korea reveal a complicated relationship between those societies and the ancient tenets of Confucianism.