Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tastes of Singapore at Selfridges Food Hall - how it went

retro display for Tastes of Singapore at Selfridges

I mentioned in an earlier post about Tastes of Singapore, which is held at Selfridges Food Hall, so wife and I decided to make our way down to Oxford Street on Saturday. While we don't expect another event the scale of Singapore Day, we thought that it would be interesting to see some popular homegrown brands on the shelves of Selfridges Food Hall.

Other than cooking ingredients and other foodstuff, the most obvious attraction is definitely the cooking demo, or so we thought.

Da Hua soy sauce, food just doesn't taste the same without it

We were suitably impressed with promoters' enthusiasm in introducing their products to curious shoppers. There was this tall guy who was promoting Da Hua soy sauce chatted with us a bit and mentioned that they will be flying off to Germany after the one week stint in London.

However, we couldn't help feel a bit disappointed with the cooking demo. While we were there, someone was preparing beef rendang and Singapore laksa using Prima Taste preprepared pack - frankly, he is more of a salesman than a cook, and reminded me of those slick sales people peddling their wares at Metro back home.

The Prima Taste cook/salesman strutting his stuff

"Come try Singapore's most popular dishes!" he exclaimed as more shoppers shuffled towards him.

"Hello Sir," he beckoned to a guy, "Are you from France?"
"Er nope, I'm from Russia."
"Oh," the cook/salesman quickly recollected himself, "Have you tried Singapore's laksa?"

I'm sure they serve it by the buckets over at St. Petersburg."Here, have some!" he then scoop a generous portion into a small plastic container and topped it up with a slice of tau pok before handling it to the Russian who looked a bit hesitant but managed took a small bite with an equally small plastic fork.

"Have you tried beef rendang?" Of course, how could he not have tried that? "Here have some!" Another small plastic container handed over.

While the Russian was juggling with two containers, the cook/salesman went on, "If you do it from scratch, it'll take a couple of hours. But with Prima Taste' beef rendang pack, it'll be done within minutes!"

Erm, I distinctly remember having to leave the beef to stew for around an hour even using Prima Taste's formula but never mind that, who wouldn't want to be able to prepare beef rendang in within minutes? I mean, if I could do that, I wouldn't have to head to Sedap for my beef rendang fix every now and then.

The cooking demo aside, I was surprised at how much more expensive Prima Taste was being sold at Taste of Singapore; what was being sold for £2.60 at Leicester Square was selling for £3.95 at Selfridges' Food Hall. Quite a bit of a mark up in my opinion.

Prima taste black pepper sauce, warning: this is quite spicy

Gold Kili 3 in 1, I know of people 'importing' packs of these everytime they fly back from home

Yeo's has gone upmarket

Although it was stated at the official website that the Gallery Restaurant at Selfridges would be carrying a special menu in conjunction with the event, it sure wasn't apparent to us when we were there. In fact, we had to specially ask for the menu before it was shown to us. How strange, it did seem Selfridges didn't really put much emphasis on the promotion.

our spoils

Anyhow, we did leave with a bottle of Da Hua dark and light soy sauce for around £3.50 each.

Well, if you're thinking of making your way to Tastes of Singapore at Selfridges Food Hall, you'll have till 11th Oct before it moves on to Germany. Oh, while you're there, say hi to the friendly chap who's promoting Da Hua soy sauce.

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FĂ«anor said...

So did the Russian finally finish off his two containers? Do tell. The suspense is killing me! :-)

Dutchie said...

The props in the 1st pix - my mom has them ! I think it's stored up for years since we felt it doesnt match the new era (~_~)

The soya sauce is probably flown in instead of a sea voyage, therefore the "surcharge"? The loot I just bought in A'dam also went up 30 to 50ct for the sauces. The Horlicks cost 1 euro more - all in the space of 1yr ! Just when u thought prices will be lower due to the crunch (>_<).

Hey, Yeo's :-) That family was our church elders ! We always get a generous variety after the Xmas eve dinner ! That was a long time ago. I stopped attending when I was 13yrs young.

Food producers here used to promote the new items via food demo in the supermarts. I hv not seen them for quite some yrs. Sometimes they offer discount if u buy their new products with a coupon found in their store-magazine. I think an on site demo is better. U get to take a whiff n a bite n decide on the spot, right ?

davo said...

we went down on Sunday - was quite dissapointed really. I guess I should have realised that they would be selling Singapore fodd in a jar and packet as opposed to doing anything truly authentic. We had some Koka instant noodles - which were like instant noodles, a spoonful of Hainanese chicken rice [just the rice] and some biscuits. It was very small and really overpriced. Shame as Singaporean food is one if the things I live for.

I am glad I can make Beef Rendang at home - and these events just make me want to learn more dishes!

Great Blog - keep up the good work.

C K said...

:) To give him some credit, he lapped it up. Not sure whether he did buy any though.

To be honest, I always feel a bit embarrassed about walking right up to have a free food sample. Not sure why though.

I wouldn't have noticed those deco if not for Wife pointing it out; I'm one of those who can only focus on anything on eye level and those props were put up way above that.

Yet to try the soy sauce. Fingers' crossed. :)

Hey, thanks for stopping by and your kind words.

I though it would be much better if they actually sell a decent portion instead of giving out free bitesize samples. People really wouldn't mind paying a few quid for some tasty bites. Just look at how much those sausage buns are going for outside British Museum!

Just curious, do you cook Beef Rendang from scratch or from the Prima Taste pack? It's one of my favorite dish!

davo said...

Hi CK - regarding the Rendang - yes from scratch - I love it so much that I was forced to learn!!

Anonymous said...

This feedback is a little late I must admit. I only stumbled upon this blog just now. I was at that event too. To be fair, the cook was promoting food products from Singapore. In a place like London, there are people and food of different nationalities. Hence, I dont see anything wrong with the cook asking the gentleman if he has ever tried Laksa or Beef Rendang. We must not assumed that people are ignorant. That gentleman may be from Russia but he may have travelled to South East Asia or perhaps have tasted those dishes in Singaporean Restaurant in London. We should learn to support and take pride of other Singaporeans. Sorry to say that your blog here is inaccurate and unfair and so typically Singaporean.

C K said...

Thanks for stopping by and pointing out the obvious inaccurate assumption on my part. Of course there's nothing wrong assuming that anyone should have had Singapore's beef rendang and laksa. I mean, how could they have not, even the Russians?! They're the most popular Singaporean dishes!

"inaccurate and unfair and so typically Singaporean." It has been a long while since I heard the phrase "typically Singaporean". Ahh... erm, you don't happen to be the Prima Taste cook, do you?

Anyway, if you are, I maintain that there's no way you can prepare beef rendang in a matter a minutes, Prima Taste or not.