Nasi goreng, very nice? The cast of Fried Rice Paradise TV series on which fried rice dish represents them
The popular Dick Lee musical is now a drama series starring Fang Rong, Suhaimi Yusof, Sebastian Tan and more.
In any version of paradise worth its salt, fried rice definitely exists, we think. After all, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy the versatile yet comforting dish. That’s why it’s such welcome news that there’s going to be a TV show that revolves around the humble fried rice.
Yes, the Dick Lee musical Fried Rice Paradise, which first debuted in 1991, has been remade into a drama series set in the 80s starring Fang Rong as Choo Bee Lean, who dreams of taking her fried rice eatery to great heights after the accidental death of her mother (played by Carmen Soo). But she’s hampered by the thorn in her side, the sinister magnate Rickson Goh (Sebastian Tan).
The series is part of Mediacorp’s Lights. Camera. Singapore. Initiative, which shines a spotlight on homegrown content.
Since fried rice in all its incarnations – “Fried rice paradise, nasi goreng very nice… 99 varieties, fried rice paradise”, as the song goes – is so close to the hearts of us Singaporeans, we put it to the cast: Which fried rice dish best represents them?
Pineapple fried rice? Kimchi fried rice? Cauliflower fried rice? Paella? Which fried rice dish would you be?
SUHAIMI YUSOF: NASI GORENG KAMPUNG
I’d probably be nasi goreng kampung. With salted fish. It has spiciness, salty stuff and a little bit of sweet pea in there, just to balance things out. But I’m also a fan of Thai fried rice. I always look at myself as a buffet spread kind of guy – I enjoy different variations! I like to go to the Geylang Serai market. If you go to the second floor – which I think a lot of Singaporeans don’t know about – there’s a very nice hawker centre where you can find every single kind of regional Malay food, like food with Bugis or Javanese influence. You can have all the variations of nasi goreng there. It can get very creative.
FANG RONG: EGG FRIED RICE (WITH SAMBAL)
Oh! There are 99 varieties, come on! I think I would be a very simple egg fried rice. Eggs are very basic, very simple – but at the same time, they add so much character to the fried rice, making it both familiar and tasty. I’m a simple girl. I’m not very complicated. In terms of food choices, I tend to go for the most basic, can’t-go-wrong dishes. Like whenever I go to a western restaurant, I always order spaghetti bolognaise. When I eat chicken rice, I have the boiled white chicken. I like fish soup. And I think I’m a very simple girl in that I’m very honest. If there’s anything I’m happy or unhappy about, it’s quite clear – you’ll be able to see it on my face. I don’t really hide anything; I don’t really play mind games.
Whenever I crave egg fried rice, I go to Din Tai Fung. I have it with their sambal – it’s something that makes me very happy. And if I’m craving sambal fried rice, there’s this place along Upper Thomson that has really good sambal fried rice called Chui Xiang Kitchen.
SEBASTIAN TAN: HIS MOTHER’S FRIED RICE
My mother’s fried rice – because it tastes of home, and I’m a mummy’s boy. My mummy’s cooking is very simple but delicious – the kind of simple cooking that makes you want to eat more. Her fried rice is basically just eggs, lots of garlic, light soya sauce and nice, fluffy rice. That’s it. And somehow, the way she cooks it makes me want to eat a lot. Sometimes she’ll add peas. I love peas. If your question is, ‘Should we add peas in fried rice?’ – yes. Add away. I have a bag of frozen peas, carrots and corn at home. When I fall down and have a bruise, I can use it – or I can use it for a quick fried rice.
Yes, I’m simple, home-loving and no-frills – very different from the characters that I play. One of my well-known characters is Broadway Beng, and he’s anything but simple and no-frills. He is full of frills. Though lately, I would say he has become simpler. He used to be very gaudy, wearing pink and red. The next show that I’m going to do – which is running from Jul 17 to Aug 4 at the Capitol Theatre, please come and watch – I’m going to be in black. Broadway Beng has grown and evolved.
AISYAH AZIZ: SALTED FISH FRIED RICE
I would be salted fish fried rice. I can get very salty sometimes. But I just love how it makes me feel. I think being salty is important in being a person, and growing and evolving. Because you allow yourself to feel. And the most important thing is being aware of it. So, salted fish fried rice is my jam! I don’t really have a place I go to all the time for salted fish fried rice, but I trust Chinese seafood restaurants to have the best ones. Or if I go into a food court, there’s always that seafood stall.
CARMEN SOO: VEGETARIAN FRIED RICE
I’d be a vegetarian fried rice. I try to be healthy! I don’t eat meat. I like rice in general – I love fried rice – and every time I go to a new restaurant, I always try their fried rice because I think it represents the skill of the chef. But because I like a combination that I think is quite individual to me – although I’m sure there are people who love the same – I like to make my own. When I started learning to cook when I was younger, I realised I can actually have everything I like in my fried rice! Usually, there’s always something I don’t really like. But when I cook it, I get to put all my favourite things in it. And more often than not, anything you throw in will work. I like fried rice with chai poh, mushrooms, dried shrimp and lots of vegetables, and I have it either with chilli padi or sambal – my must-haves. I guess I’m a traditional girl at heart.
Catch Fried Rice Paradise – The Drama Series starting Jun 25 via Toggle, and subsequently every Tuesday from Jul 2 at 9.30pm on Channel 5. For more information, visit Toggle.sg/FriedRiceParadise.