Given that Olivia Ong's adopted home - Taipei, where she has been based for the past three years - has been frequently lauded for its thriving cafe culture, it seemed apt that The New Paper was meeting her in a quaint, cosy eatery-cum-artisanal coffee joint.
But the reporter found out, the homegrown bossa nova chanteuse-turned-Mandopop star is no diehard coffee drinker.
At three-month-old The Little Prince Cafe, located along Somme Road, a stone throw's away from Little India, Ong ordered rose tea instead. She also tucked into cheese scones ("I love scones!") and homemade quiche at the cafe owner's recommendation.
"For me, it's instinctual. My choice of food and beverage depends on how I'm feeling that particular day," explained Ong, 28.
After congratulating her on her MTV Europe Music Awards Best Southeast Asian Act nomination and hearing about her hectic jet-setting schedule -- she was scheduled to perform at gigs in Japan and December through the month of November -- the doe-eyed artist talked about her favourite dishes, restaurants and exotic culinary adventures.
Do you often have afternoon tea in Taiwan?
Cafes and coffee joints are massively popular in Taiwan. Most offer free Wi-Fi and people love chilling out the whole day there.That said, as most of my friends are guys, I hardly go for tea. (Grins.)
The great thing about Taipei's cafes is that they boast a wide variety of breakfast food and the selection is very international.I love a hearty American breakfast.
Do you have a sweet tooth?
Oh yes, I got it from my dad.My favourite dessert is funnel cake, which is so simple, yet great and warm. Everything about it is amazing; the berries, vanilla, strawberry, Nutella, fried dough and caramel.
There is a wonderful Western restaurant in Taipei called Pig & Pepper that serves it.
Being in Taipei most of the time, do you miss local food? What do you usually eat with your family when you're back in Singapore?
Of course.Every now and then, I'll have random cravings for stuff like nasi lemak, chee cheong fun and roti prata.There are places in Taiwan where you can find Hainanese chicken rice, but it's just not the same.I like hawker food around the Siglap area. I'm one-quarter Peranakan, so when we have family gatherings, it's usually Nonya fare.
Occasionally, we'd have dim sum.
Where would you go for a romantic dinner? (Ong has been linked to San Francisco-born, Taiwan-based songwriter Will Peng for over a year, but she says they are "good friends".)
In Taiwan, there's a lovely Michelin star restaurant that serves Bulgarian cuisine. The chef buys fresh food every day and the ambience is fantastic. Unfortunately, I can't remember its name.
Fine dining in Taiwan is much cheaper than in Singapore. And the service is on par, or even better.
What is the most exotic dish you've tried?
Once, in Japan, I was tricked into eating raw horse meat! My friends told me it was tuna sashimi. I later found out it was horse meat from a racehorse that was put (down) because it was old and injured.
Imagine my shock.
I couldn't appreciate it too. To me, horse meat has no taste.
Gosh, I hope animal rights activists don't flare up after reading this!
You live alone in Taipei. Do you cook much?
No, I don't. Eating out is way too convenient (laughs). I make a pretty good omelette though.