Melissa and Michelle Pong, the darling duo behind Fat Spoon and Mei by Fat Spoon, discuss all things tasty with Samantha Lim and divulge who they wish they could cook for
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While many a millennial is content to cafe-hop and eat out, the Pong sisters are a laudable example of Gen Ys who are preserving food traditions in the kitchen. In 2010, the siblings opened Fat Spoon, a homey eatery in Damansara Utama flaunting their love for Nyonya cuisine. The restaurant’s devout following inspired the sisters to release The Fat Spoon Cookbook in 2014, thus enabling home chefs to replicate their revered recipes such as lemongrass pot clams, Asian lamb stew with crusty bread, and durian crème brulee. Rather than resting on their laurels, the dynamic duo put their heads together to then launch Mei by Fat Spoon in 2015, this time tackling Japanese flavours imbibed with Malaysian influences; think Ikura seaweed guacamole with papadum chips, moo moo rice bowls with chili padi, and other honestto-goodness fare.
1 AreAr they good taste detectives?
If aanything, that’s probably our favourite thing to do—to go on a tasting adventure and to replicate the flavours in our kitchen kitchen. It’s rarely a 100 per cent copy because we tweak it to suit our tastaste buds, substitute ingredients with easily accessible local produc produce, or use a shortcut for commercially viable reasons.
2 The star dish at their respective restaurants.
At Fat Spoon, our ulam fried rice is a favourite. Good old wok-fried rice tossed with lots of aromatic julienned herbs and finished with house-made sambalbelacan for that necessarynece kick! At Mei by Fat Spoon, our ox tongue rice is the perfectp combination of textured, sweet, salty, spicy and comfortcom all in a bowl. And, our cempedak spring rolls are also a consistentcon favourite at both eateries.
3 Similarities between Nyonya and Japanese cuisine.
They’re definitely prepared with lots of love and patience. There are many steps to preparing the traditional dishes andan most importantly, precise knife skills are a must!
4 Who they wish they could cook for?
Oh, that’s a no brainer. Dad, who’s no longer with us. He was a really big foodie and knew his way around the kitchen. We think he’d be pretty proud of his two girls.
5 On convincing customers to try innards.
Honestly, it’s only a mental block. Tongue is much like sliced beef while gizzards are like a tougher part of the chicken thigh. Diners who are on the fence usually give it a try. Otherwise we make them feel like they’re missing out on the good stuff. The #fomo ones usually cave in. Haha!
BOOK A RECIPE The Fat Spoon Cookbook is a delicious read, and can be ordered through mphonline.com