A Gen Z perspective: Nostalgia for a simpler time

We celebrated Mother's Day at the oldest Nonya restaurant in Singapore! In a heartwarming gathering, 45 mother-child duos and trios from diverse backgrounds, communities, and generations came together to share a meal and reflect on their cherished memories of their mothers. The duos had a chance to make their own popiahs, converse with mothers from different generations and backgrounds, and even exchange tips on reducing food wastage while sharing memories of their favourite dishes lovingly prepared by their mothers.

I was at the oldest Nonya restaurant in Singapore, enthralled by the vibrant primary colours adoring the eatery. As most people would know, we Gen Z-ers love nothing better than some good ol’ nostalgia.

And what better way to channel days of the past than a cosy sit-down dinner with mum. Or in this case, 45 mums.

I was at “A Taste of Mum’s Love”, a dinner event by DBS Foundation celebrating mothers from various cultures and communities. The dinner was part of DBS Perspectives – a series of programmes specially curated to bring like-minded people together while building a community around the bay.

Early to arrive, I had the chance to take in the beautiful space. Huge round tables, covered with traditional batik cloths, with plates, utensils and glasses, all neatly placed on top. The walls were decorated with traditional kampung-like windows and doors, displaying a heavy influence of peranakan motifs. Colourful ceramic traditional kitchenware sat on the shelves.

Shortly, the crowd started to flock in. The evening’s host, ex-radio DJ Petrina Kow, took to the temporary stage in the middle of restaurant. I sat at table nine, with four mothers with their children.

The dinner event started proper with an introduction by our host and an ice-breaking session. Before we knew it, the already energetic crowd took it a notch higher!

Admittedly, I started off this dinner feeling out of place. After all, I was here for work, which meant I was solo without my mum – in a roomful of mothers. I shouldn’t have worried though. The mums at my table quickly took me under their wing, ensuring I had enough to eat and drink and including me in their conversations!

Soon enough, the ice breakers ended. Mr Yap Kow Soon, owner of the restaurant, took to the stage to share about the night’s specially curated menu.

What I loved from his sharing – Mr Yap detailed how his restaurant abides by zero food waste practices passed down from older family members! Mr Yap had inherited the restaurant from his family and his son is now managing the restaurant as a third-generation owner.

Specifically, he spoke about the dishes from the evening’s menu, made from ingredients that do not lead to wastage. For example, various parts of the chicken were used to make dishes such as: Sambal Timun, Ayam Buah Keluak, and Ayam Tempra.

After Mr Yap’s sharing, his chef demonstrated how we could make our very own popiah. Honestly, easier said than done! While most mother-child pairs were hard at work perfecting their dish, I was simply happy to eat what seemed like a de-constructed popiah.

In the spirit of zero food waste, we used leftover fillings to make Kueh Pie Tees. Mr Yap explained that re-using fillings for different appetisers is one way they try to reduce food wastage.

Among the dishes served, one in particular caught my attention.

Ayam Buah Keluak

Ayam Buah Keluak – a traditional Peranakan dish consisting of chicken, tamarind gravy and buah keluak nuts. Quick fun fact: It is one of the favourite dishes of Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

I have seen gravies made with cashew nuts, ground nuts, or even almonds...But this was my first time seeing buah keluak nuts in a gravy. Buah Keluak is a seed from the kepayang tree. The seed is initially poisonous but made edible after a fermentation process.

One of the diners, Kai Lin, loved the dish.

"Ayam Buah Keluak is my favourite dish made by my mum, and she continued to make it for me even after I got married and moved out. It was fun explaining what Ayam Buah Keluak is to those who were trying it for the first time and exchanging tips to make the dish spicier!” shared Kai Lin.

Many other tips were also shared that night, as mothers shared their ideas and recipes to reduce food waste.

Swipe to see the different famous dishes we love that were born out of #TowardsZeroFoodWaste recipes!

The night wrapped with cups of peranakan chendol and dessert fruits made from ugly fruits provided by Fruit & Vegetable Solutions, a social enterprise supported by DBS Foundation.

I went home that night, thankful for the conversations I had and memories I made with the different members of the community.

As part of our ongoing efforts to bring more vibrancy and energy to the Bay area, we celebrated Mother's Day at the oldest Nonya restaurant in Singapore. This initiative is part of DBS’ free programme series in partnership with Esplanade titled DBS Perspectives @ Esplanade.

The DBS Perspectives @ Esplanade line-up seeks to bring diverse segments of the community together to explore, connect, and engage on pertinent societal themes interlacing Singapore’s past, present, and future – with topics ranging from a light-hearted look into intergenerational dynamics within the family, to unpacking the nation’s sustainability concerns, to diving into much-needed discussions around issues such as mental health, among others.

Find out more about the upcoming events here: go.dbs.com/lmbtb

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