1. The Lokal, where we agonised over The Ranting Panda being a ‘legit’ food blog. These were relatively early days, when my get-togethers with the Ranter and the Rantee were mostly gossip sessions about people, life, and the world in general. How awful things were and how gleeful we felt! Have you ever had one of those bona fide bitching sessions with zero productivity but maximum enjoyment? This was one of those.
The Lokal is one of my favourite hangouts, because the food is hearty, good for sharing, and the place is cosy, and service is heartfelt. Over that particular dinner with the pandas, we reminisced about days long past and lamented our long-gone youth as only the not-really-old can, while we speared truffle fries and shared the steak that came on an earthy wooden platter. That particular meal left us stuffed with food and suffused with comfort.
It was one of the best quiet evenings out ever.
136 Neil Road
Tel: +65 6344 8527
2. Ronin, where silence was healing. Have you ever noticed how with some of the nearest and dearest friends, you just lapse into a silence that can meander up mountains high and traverse valleys low, to the point you forget the person was there, but also marvel at how much rest you derive from each other’s presence? This was the Rantee and me, some days after he had just returned from one of his many overseas trips (Blast this blessed dude). I rightly ooh-ed and aah-ed over the yummy creamy scrambled eggs, and ferociously devoured the warm soft toast over which I put way too much butter (the only way to eat toast, really.)
But this particular morning had me rather down, too – I felt troubled over the fact that some of my oldest friends and I were drifting apart, and I asked the Rantee, how is it not regrettable when people I have shared so many memories with, somehow feel so distant from me right now? And this wasn’t some petty spat or gaping quarrel – just a whimper of an end, really, to many years of strolling friendships, classroom letters, endless texts.
This was the beginning of my realisation that on our journeys, sometimes friends have to walk apart to come together again.
17 Hongkong Street
3. New Ubin Seafood, where we celebrated Singapore’s birthday with zi char. This was monumental because it was the first time we had taken a wefie with a Singapore flag. True to local instincts, we completely over-ordered, and revelled in how we were eating steak in an open-air, Hokkien-laden setting replete with screaming children and uncles in shorts and slippers.
Yes, we were in heaven.
One thing you might know about the three of us is that the Rantee and I can be rather strident when it comes to any sense of entitlement, and our love for Singapore sometimes comes out in an outpouring of frothing rage, complete with widened eyes and flailing hands…the Ranter is our safe harbour of grounded, complete lack of concern. Hahaha. Yes we can make quite a skit.
During this evening we gathered that Singapore will probably turn out pretty alright in the end.
New Ubin Seafood
Blk 27 Sin Ming Road #01-174
Sin Ming Industrial Estate Sector A
Tel: +65 6466 9558
4. Mad About Sucre, where the Ranter and the Rantee were sweeter than sweet. We hadn’t met together in awhile, due to work being mad busy and our schedules just consistently clashing. (Also, the new season of Suits wasn’t gonna watch itself.) The boys wanted me to try this new dessert place they said I would absolutely love, so we headed thereabouts. I wasn’t expecting much – dessert is always a clear winner for me, so I would probably be bowled over regardless.
Well, it was like a series of strikes, more like. This place’s food and service and atmosphere is phenomenal. i love love love the stuff here. Everything is thought out, well-paired, and painstakingly explained just like in fine dining, except without the exorbitant price tag, and with a warmer feel throughout.
It was also here that the boys said they were buying me dinner and dessert which we had just finished.
Now, you have to know that amongst us especially, treats are rare because of how our friendship is and how long we have known one another. We don’t do treats. And the Ranter and Rantee do not offer to treat, me at least. I was floored.
“We want to thank you for being part of The Ranting Panda,” they said. Not in unison, duh, I can’t remember who said it.
I’m not sure if you know, I came to join The Ranting Panda quite out of accident and some resentment and mostly out of greed. I love eating, I can’t stand grammatical errors (except those I make, which are then inevitable human error), and I love the two boys. We just sort of hung out and I just sort of typed some random shit and here we are now. Up to that point, I had never thought of myself as part of the blog – I didn’t think I contributed enough, somehow. So for the Ranter and the Rantee to say that was just immensely sweet.
Mad About Sucre
27 Teo Hong Road
Tel: +65 9780 3906
5. Open Farm Community, where it was all about #SG50. By now, we have settled into a comfortable rhythm, we get one another in a way that expresses itself in caveman grunts or outright ignoring of one another. During the lead-up to the SG50 celebrations, we made plans that changed again and again, to celebrate this milestone for our beloved home. We got really mad at those imbeciles blindly blaming the train breakdowns, and yakked about how everyone did not feel grateful for the stuff we already have (because obviously we are the most grateful human beings on Earth etc).
It was entirely by chance that we got a table at all at Open Farm Community. At the height of the usual afternoon heat, we were completely lucky to be lazing at an outdoor bench with a cooler-than-usual weather. We looked at the vegetable garden beside us, took some pictures, and talked about how nice the place was, how good looking some of the patrons and staff were, and chatted about other inconsequential things.
The food was really yummy, we shared everything (including the smoothie which I really should have ordered at the end so it didn’t warm up so fast), and we genuinely were astonished by how far we have come as individuals, as friends, as a nation.
Beside us, a couple laughed as a series of rambutans dropped from the tree in front of their table. We shared looks of amusement. Did you know that rambutans need to be plucked? They can’t be eaten once they’ve dropped from the tree. The Rantee shared how he and his teammates used to pluck rambutans during the evenings back in his NS days.
Behind us, two women laughingly apologised as they moved their table nearer to us – there was some water insistently dripping onto their table from the overhanging tree. We shrugged and idly chatted a bit together.
Some ways away, a table of four played cards while they laughed periodically over someone’s horribly good, or horribly bad, hand. They ordered rounds and rounds of coffee.
It would be a meandering afternoon for all three of us – the Ranter had a family gathering to head to, the Rantee a friends’ meetup, and me to my book in bed. We prepared to go as we finished chatting with a server about the vegetable garden, where some toddlers determinedly sprinted about in their little green Olympics.
Always, it is the quiet moments like these where everyone goes about their daily nothings, that I am most grateful for.
Here is to friendship and family, chosen tribes and incidental bonds with strangers. Because we all share much more, for much longer, than we may ever realise. Here’s to Singapore. Happy 50th birthday, you stupidface.
Open Farm Community
130E Minden Road
Tel: +65 6471 0306
Ranted by the RanBee