When you start to learn about food and truly enjoy it, you’ll realize that food that is prepared with perfection stems from a deep and narrowed-down obsession with it.
When I first ate Japanese food in Singapore, the only kind I knew was Teriyaki chicken and I liked it, but that’s all I knew. When you flip through a menu in most Japanese restaurants here, you can get udon, sushi, donburi, bentos almost everything you could imagine under one roof.
Now, the problem with that is that most restaurants do need to keep their budget in check. They’ll cut as many costs as they can, so that they can provide their customers with a really wide selection. When that bowl of udon comes, you’ll probably wonder.. This is it? This is udon? It’s mushy, has a slightly funky sourish flavour, the broth is probably made with powdered MSG and water which is easier to do. And miso soup is just a negligible accompaniment to your bento, not worth your effort slurping it up.
Then I stepped into Japan for the first time after watching Anthony Bourdain swoon over the perfection and obsessive culture Japan has towards their food and was in shock. They have dedicated stalls for each specific type style of cooking or even meat/seafood of choice. For example, restaurants specializing in chicken – from head to toe, soba restaurants,
Yakitori places, Udon restaurants (and the list goes on….) And, I gotta tell you, REAL udon is springy, it has a bite and the broth is lightly flavoured with dashi or whatever type of soup/curry it comes with, AND It doesn’t taste like instant noodles.
Real miso soup is sweet and salty from the fermentation of the soy and the broth is made from scratch that gently bubbles away every single day. Each serving is made on the spot and it is never gritty. And miso, just like rice has many MANY varieties. Rice isn’t just a bowl to fill you up.
I went to a restaurant that specializes in eel and there happened to be a very Singaporean family sitting a few tables down very loudly exclaiming, “Wa, how come all eel only ah? How come no sashimi?!” Maybe it was their first time there, and I’m not dissing them, but we all have to learn that if you want something delicious and cooked with heart and soul, we have to accept that specialty places do them best and learn to appreciate them. These are the people who respect their produce and their cooking methods, and they always find ways to improve what they know and they put in their 110% everyday, never compromising to please every single person that walks through their door.
My point is that you choose what you love and you commit to it. Commit to your style and never compromise.
I know that I’ll never be good at sugar art/3D art or creating Mickey Mouse sculptures using cake and I’ll never love it and if I ever did it just to please someone, that’ll just be compromising. Based on my personal principles, piecing together a cake isn’t just sticking kit kats and piling on M&Ms, dying a vanilla cake in 7 different colours and calling it a masterpiece. It’s cheating.
Choose a style and stick to it. I have nothing against people who choose to follow trends, because, from a business point of view it may work, but personally, I always make it a point to myself to never ever compromise and only do what I love. I’ll only reject ideas and projects when I know I cannot give my 110% because whoever is on the receiving end always deserves that extra 10%.