Hatching Culinarian Eaglets from Legal Eagles
Just so that the circuit breaker isn’t construed as nothing but a Debbie downer for the year, we’re sharing some sunshine hatching from the homes of young legal eagles for those in need of a pick-me-up from the doom and gloom – which you can get delivered straight to your room.
2020 has been filled with massive curve-balls flung at professions (the Bar being no exception) and continues to leave industry players fretting over the uncertainty of the future, with lawyers struggling to get accustomed to rolling with the “new normal”. In a brave new world where creativity and versatility are key, it is comforting to know that there are lawyers who have turned the circuit breaker into an incubator for delectable opportunities. In this feature, we bring to the table two homegrown businesses birthed during the circuit breaker, whereby being cooped up at home actually helped young lawyers kickstart culinary journeys alongside the path of the law. Aside from personally taking it upon ourselves to test their offerings and present a case on their taste, we set out our brief examination of the persons behind the businesses to better illustrate what goes behind the scenes in the homegrown food business (which everyone seems to want a slice of).
“Dizzy Dumplings” & “Dizzy Daisy” – By Liow Xuan Rong
Whatsapp No.: (65) 9664 1507
Possibly already a familiar name in the market is Dizzy Dumplings, the brainchild of Liow Xuan Rong, who was newly called August last year and in the corporate law practice during the circuit breaker itself. The pretty-in-pink dumplings of Dizzy Dumplings have been featured in articles of 8 Days and The Straits Times, and are notable for their beautiful appearance created by natural dragonfruit juice colouring. Since its inception, Xuan Rong has sold over 2,000 dumplings – an amazing feat considering how Dizzy Dumplings started off as a kitchen experiment of developing a pink dough inspired by naturally-coloured dumplings on Instagram, as a mere avenue to pass time.
Dizzy Daisy, on the other hand, is a forthcoming venture that Xuan Rong is looking to set her sights on, selling alcohol-flavoured ice cream pints (priced between SGD13-SGD16 for 300ml and SGD20-SGD24 for 500ml). She emphasised that the ice creams would be made from only premium spirits, her personal rule of thumb being that if she wouldn’t drink them, she wouldn’t put them into ice cream either. Compared to Dizzy Dumplings, Dizzy Daisy is considered in its infancy, with Xuan Rong looking to develop more cocktail-inspired flavours in the future.
When asked to compose a tweet about her ventures, Xuan Rong creatively came up with the following: “It is okay to play with food (sometimes)! While Dizzy Dumplings’ pink dumplings are coloured using dragonfruit, Dizzy Daisy reimagines the world of cocktails in dessert form – ice cream. Who says you can’t have the best of both worlds? Have your drink and eat it too!”
We had the good fortune of snagging the dumplings from Dizzy Dumplings on short notice, and sampled both items on the menu, the Pork and Chive Dumplings (SGD14 for 20) and the Truffle Dumplings (SGD20 for 12). We opted for self-collection (around Sembawang), but delivery is only SGD5 and free for purchases above SGD100, whereby the dumplings came carefully packed in the adorable packaging featured below.
In accordance with the cooking instructions (step-by-step instructions are available on Instagram), the dumplings are to be pan fried. As the dumpling skins are delicate, it is crucial to be careful with them during the cooking process to avoid breaking them. Your care will be well rewarded, as the dumplings are as much a visual feast after cooking, maintaining their vibrant colours.
Taste-wise, the Truffle Dumplings far outshined their counterpart, as the fragrance of truffle is prominent but not overpowering, with the truffle flavour burst a fine accompaniment to the minced meat encapsulated in the dumplings. We have no doubt that these would be a crowd-pleaser amongst truffle lovers.
On a final note, in a bid to see how the newly called lawyers may find inspiration both within and outside the law, we asked Xuan Rong for the best and worst advice she had gotten since being called to the Bar. For the former, she quoted Justice Choo Han Teck’s address delivered at the May 2020 Monthly Call, “Beware of vanity, and repudiate it. The moment you think that you are the best of the best, or merely better than just one other person, you will have succumbed to it” and added that newly called lawyers should “Pursue your passion(s), and always do so with humility.” As for the latter, surprisingly, her reply was “Stick to your day job.” While Xuan Rong agrees that focus and dedication to practice are crucial in a lawyer’s formative years, she believes that having a side hustle does not necessarily detract from that and may even value-add to one’s career. With how her Dizzy endeavours appear to be fine testaments of the beliefs espoused above, we think we can agree with that.
“Magic at Table” – By Edwina and Joel Lim
Handphone No.: (65) 9785 1925
Magic at Table is an up-and-coming home based family business linked to the food blog under the same name, headed by Mdm Edwina Lim and assisted by her son Joel Lim, a senior associate of Dentons Rodyk’s corporate practice. Whilst the circuit breaker was its definitive trigger, both mother and son were baking and cooking respectively rather extensively as passionate hobbyists long before. Edwina, being a former writer, had initially started Magic at Table as a blog to share her cooking and baking recipes, which in turn led to selling Kueh Salat (which is her husband’s favourite dessert) first to family and friends, before the greater public began reaching out to make purchases as well.
Currently featured on the menu are the Kueh Salat and the Banana Ondeh Cake (both SGD38 for a 7-inch cake), with the September addition of Peanut Butter Cookies (SGD15 for 230g). Islandwide delivery is priced at a reasonable SGD8. An important tenet behind Magic at Table is that they keep everything as authentic as possible, with no preservatives or artificial colouring/flavours added and the products accordingly being delivered the same day that they are made. Kudos to Joel for this, noting that production usually takes place six days a week, with the family churning out up to six Kuehs in a day. For avoidance of doubt, the preparation work is usually done the night before or in the morning before working hours begin at 9:00am.
For the taste test, we ordered the Kueh Salat, which comes as an entire cake for sharing. The beautiful blue from the “pulot” glutinous rice layer comes from home-grown butterfly pea flowers, one of which tops the “kaya” custard layer. The custard is infused with freshly extracted pandan juice, which is a mild fragrance complimenting the kaya flavour.
Whilst we are no Kueh Salat experts, the Kueh Salat seems softer and less “jelak” than most, which may be attributed by the fact that it has a subtle taste with sweetness to our liking, although it may be noted that the taste of coconut milk is not particularly evident as a result. It is recommended that the Kueh Salat be eaten on the day of delivery. However, we had kept a small slice refrigerated and ate this over the next two days, and are happy to say that there was almost no compromise to the taste or texture when heated in the microwave.
When posed the question on the best and worst advice received since becoming a lawyer, Joel had boldly said that he cannot recall ever receiving any bad advice in relation to career or even his culinary pursuits (lucky him!). He instead humbly credited his mentor at work and his mother for their support of his endeavours, whilst emphasising the importance of being receptive to all advice and seeking out learning points from both good and bad experiences and/or discourses. In his words,
“No one plate of chicken rice, or one piece of sushi will ever be the same, but the more you eat, the more you will appreciate the nuances of that dish, and in that same vein, life.” He also highlighted in particular that it is crucial for young lawyers not to be afraid to ask questions, stating from experience that “people are often glad to share, and seldom are there stupid questions, but perhaps, there are better times to ask certain questions”.
To end off, the long term goal of the Magic at Table team is to open up their home for private dining events where the mother and son team can cook and bake together for guests – something we very much look forward to (when social distancing measures taper down).