Thai-American host Utt reveals his favourite foods at S'pore hawkers

5 August 2014 / 2 years 2 months ago

By Tan Kee Yun
The New Paper
Friday, Aug 01, 2014

To the men reading this, get ready to be jealous of Utt. We are not referring to the Thai-American host-actor's looks or suave demeanour.

The real reason, as M found out over lunch with the former MTV VJ last Friday, is that Utt (real name Uttsada Panichkul) simply does not put on weight. Despite already having hit the big 4-0, there is no sign of the dreaded beer belly, or any mid-life flab, for that matter.

We met him at Outback Steakhouse's new outlet at orchardgateway.

"Fortunately, I have very high metabolism and it's really hard for me to gain weight. My friends hate me for it. I have good genes that I have to thank my parents for,"  he said with a smile.

He was recently appointed as a director with talent agency Beam Artistes where he helps manage the careers of actors such as Paul Foster and Keagan Kang.

But even with the many lunch meetings that come with a hectic corporate lifestyle, his frame stays lean and toned.

"I guess my body system is just different," Utt said with a chuckle as he feasted on a hearty spread of onion strings, baby back ribs, tortilla chips with spinach artichoke dip and tilapia with lump crab meat.

"Even with my new role, which involves days of eating, I haven't had the chance to experience how it feels like to let myself go. Sometimes, I wish I could be in that position."

What foods do you never tire of eating?

I have a sweet tooth, so it'd have to be anything like ice cream, cakes, macarons - different types of desserts. A combination of sweet, sour and rich works best for me. For example, chocolate ice cream with berries. Or if I've ordered sorbet, I'd get hot fudge and nuts.

Any favourite local hawker fare and haunts?

Every time I'm away from Singapore, I miss hawker dishes like carrot cake, fried oysters, sting ray and kang kong (water spinach).

I live in the east, which is a great place for food. I'm near Katong and there is never a shortage of stuff to eat. There's Dunman Food Centre, Old Airport Road Food Centre, plus lots of dessert eateries in the Joo Chiat area.

I'm sure you have some favourite Thai delicacies too.

Yup, likewise, when I'm not in Thailand, I start having cravings for som tam (green papaya salad) and larb (minced pork and chicken).

In Bangkok, you can't go wrong with Thai food. You can buy tom yum and pad thai practically anywhere in the city and it will taste better than the Thai food in Singapore.

That said, there are some Thai restaurants here that are authentic, like Nara Thai at Ion Orchard and A-roy Thai at Funan DigitaLife Mall. Golden Mile Complex has several good Thai eateries too.

Do you cook? Any signature dishes?

These days, not really. (Laughs) In Asia, it's very easy to find food. If I were living in the US, it might be different. I learnt how to cook simple dishes when I was growing up in California. I can do grilled cheese sandwiches and hamburgers. They aren't too difficult.

Things are expensive there. So you have to go to the supermarket, buy things in bulk and eat the same stuff for a couple of days.

As for Asian fare, my mum has a fusion pad thai recipe which is quite easy to put together. I still cook that sometimes.

Where would you go for a romantic dinner date?

I tend to gravitate towards intimate, boutique establishments like Galbiati Gourmet Deli at Upper Bukit Timah Road and Wanderlust Hotel at Dickson Road, which has a nice restaurant.

Utt, Singapore
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