#PSQ&A

PS.Q&A: Meet The Team That Makes Us Tick: Eric Balan

 
PSNews-staff-Eric-TB-03092015
 

Eric Balan, Service Manager at PS.Cafe Petit, Tiong Bahru

Born: 11 Jun 1971

Years in PS: 11 years

Hometown: Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia

I joined PS.Cafe because… of the invite from one of the PS. directors. We have known each other for years prior as he was one of the regulars at my previous work place. I remembered clearly that day, as he referred me to his friend’s café when I told him about my intention for a better prospect. It was only 2 weeks into my new job at PS.Cafe Paragon, when I found out that that regular customer of mine is actually the director at PS.

Started in the service industry… when I was 21 years old. I have been working in the hospitality industry as a server, bell boy, house keeping etc. Probably around 20 years now!

My favourite hobby is… definitely Soccer! Since young, I was the school’s Soccer Team Captain, National Soccer player for the under 21 category and was given an opportunity to train and represent a Soccer Club in Italy. Until now, I always have the urge to change into my jersey when I see people playing.

I really like our… PS. family! Everyone is warm-hearted and treats each other like their own family members.

My dream vacation is… A good extended trip to Italy. As I have always been interested in their rich cultures, history and architectural structures in the country. 

My favourite comfort food is… A plate of rice with Rendang, Asam Pedas and any other spicy Malay food.

My life philosophy is… Live for the present moment as life is unpredictable.

If I didn’t work at PS, I would be… A professional Soccer Player. (If I had accepted the opportunity offered back when I was younger!)

Walk in to PS.Cafe Petit at Tiong Bahru & say Hi to Eric!  He is sure to greet you with his warm smile & make you feel right at home.

Meet our regulars: Jeffrey Ong

Name: Jeffrey Ong 

Regular at PS.Cafe at Ann Siang Hill Park 

Occupation: Freelance Consultant in Contractual Risk Management

 

Tell us about your job

I graduated from the Singapore Polytechnic in Quantity Surveying. Instead of 

continuing in this disciple and with propitious opportunity I found my passion 

and calling in the area of contractual claims and risk management. 

Although I have a second discipline in Computer Studies, regrettable I’m not a 

tech person. So much so I remember once I thought “Wi-Fi” was a dessert when I 

saw a sign in a cafe that said “Free WiFi”.

 

What was your childhood dream? 

My childhood dream was to work from home in a modest 2 bedroom house by the 

Waikato River in New Zealand. At least I have managed to achieve the former. 

Could you tell us about your favorite restaurants outside of Singapore? 

There are so many but two of them are in London called “Goldfish” in Hampstead 

High Street and Barrica on Goodge Street. The service and the food are 

excellent. For Barrica, you must, must, must, try the duck on raspberry jam on toast. On 

my first visit, I had four rounds of that. 

 

How did you first become a regular at PS.Cafe? 

I would describe myself as a creature of habit, and for me it’s the entire dining 

experience that matters. My first experience with PS.Cafe was at Harding Road

(not counting PS Café Paragon which was more of a café setting than restaurant).

PS.Cafe at Harding Road to me is an icon, as it represented a time when Singapore 

was starting to venture into more sophisticated style of dining. Through time and 

being a regular, I started becoming more familiar with the folks at the restaurant. 

In 2006, we had a big dinner to celebrate the life of my father, who sadly passed 

away. It was a memorable evening especially when the whole restaurant toasted 

to my dad. When PS.Cafe at Ann Siang Hill opened, I started heading there more often as 

I liked the whole setting and its history. It has a vibe that is different from the 

regular bars and some restaurants. It offers a different experience to that of PS Café 

Harding. Three levels of enjoyment – pre-dinner drinks on the first floor, dinner 

on the second, and dessert after-dinner drinks on the attic floor. 

 

Why do you think you keep coming back?

The Pork Cutlet, the Steak Sandwich and the Miso Cod are my favorites. 

As I do cook at home, the restaurant does inspire me in many ways. For 

example, the caramelize Brussels sprouts (I use honey instead of sugar). 

The team is of course great and I feel we have connected on a personal level. A

fun bunch. So whenever I there on my own, I don’t feel alone.

Want to know more?

If you visit PS.Cafe at Ann Siang Hill Park for dinner, feel free to say hello to Jeffery Ong and ask him about his travels.

Meet our regulars: Peter Lim

Name: Peter H L Lim

Born: 1938

Age: 76

Profession: Freelance Writer and Media Consultant

Founding Chief Editor of The New Paper

Former Editor-in-Chief of The Straits Times

Tell us a bit about your childhood and teenage years.

I was born in 1938, shortly before the Japanese Occupation started in 1942. Japan surrendered in 1945, and I enrolled in school after the so-called liberation in 1946 at 8 years old. I went to Anglo Chinese School, but I didn’t take my A-levels or go to University because I came from a poor family background and dreamt of becoming a fighter pilot.

I joined the Malayan Air Training Corps, passed the first eye test and was chosen for some elementary flying lessons. The next eye-test was in six months’ time, but within the first three months, I already found myself becoming shortsighted…

I didn’t want to tell anybody and hoped it would go away.  Of course it sounds silly now, but I wanted to carry on.  One day during a flight, the instructor suddenly sternly said, “ I am taking over,” and I knew I’d been caught.  He told me to take an eye test, and when I failed it felt like the end of the world.  I always wanted to be a fighter pilot, not because I wanted to kill people, but because it was my dream job. Fighter pilot man, don’t play-play.

So where did you go from there?

So basically, I was an aviation dropout that landed in journalism.

During my last year in school, the Commandant of the Malayan Air Training Corps knew that I couldn’t fly anymore.  He was from the UK and an officer in the British Royal Air Force, but he was also a senior journalist.  The Straits Times employed him as the their news editor, and while working full-time, he also volunteered his services to the Malayan Air Training Corps.

He asked me when were my school holidays. I replied March and he said, “Ok, I’m the news editor of The Staits Times.  You come on as a part-time reporter for two weeks.  We won’t pay you, but you’ll have the best holiday of your life.”  The Straits Times was stingy in those days the 1950s and is still stingy today, but it is a great job.  He brought me into journalism and I owe him my career. 

That same year, I won an international essay competition. The essay competition allowed me to visit New York to represent Singapore in The New York Herald Tribune Youth Forum.  The title of that competition was the “World We Want.”  This was a fantastic experience and also contributed to my career in journalism. 

An old photo of Peter in the Malayan Air Training Corps. Peter is seated, 4th from the left on the wing of the British Royal Air Force Spitfire aircraft. The man with the sunglasses is MATC Commandant, Johnny Behague.  (photo Courtesy of Peter Lim's personal albums) 

An old photo of Peter in the Malayan Air Training Corps. Peter is seated, 4th from the left on the wing of the British Royal Air Force Spitfire aircraft. The man with the sunglasses is MATC Commandant, Johnny Behague.  (photo Courtesy of Peter Lim's personal albums) 

What were your first impressions of life outside Singapore on that trip?

My first impression of America was a very favorable one. There were five of us from South East Asia – kids from Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore – and we were all put on a first class flight to New York.  During the flight there was a crew change, and a stewardess came on board who was very attentive and good-looking.  She was a junior in first class.

We were flying to New York at Christmas time and it was very very cold.  The other kids were alright but I was feeling extremely cold.  I asked her for a blanket but the stewardess said a blanket wouldn’t help.  Instead, she told me to try an eggnog to warm me up.  I told her I was a kid and couldn’t consume alcohol, but she said it was alright.  I tried it, and it instantly made me feel better.

She was so sweet and kind, so naturally I fell in love with her. I asked her for her name and discovered she was based in Germany. I sent a postcard to her, and she actually wrote me back!  But after awhile we lost contact.  

I feel what is missing in PS.Cafe Petit is eggnog at Christmas.  Ha!  Then I would come, and drink a toast to the stewardess I fell in love with that Christmas in 1956.  

When did you first visit PS.Cafe Petit?

The original place was an Art Gallery and I knew the owner.  So out of curiosity, I wanted to know who the new tenants were. I peeked in and saw construction workers.  I kept peeking in, and could tell it was going to be a restaurant or café, but I wondered why there weren’t any chairs or tables. 

 One day I was at PS.Cafe at Palais Renaissance -- I was an “irregular” regular there and the crew was quite familiar with me, so I asked if there was a new PS.Cafe at Tiong Bahru.  My server looked quite stunned, and said to give him a few seconds, so in that moment I realised I must have guessed correctly and that he was sworn to secrecy by management.

I was quite happy to know PS.Cafe was opening at Tiong Bahru. When it finally opened, I was one of their first customers.

What makes you keep coming back?

Curiosity and I like a nice place to eat. Tiong Bahru is famous for the stalls in the market, but a lot of the places are too hot for me.  I like to sit down and eat and read.  I am a slow eater, and I sometimes do work with my laptop or iPad, too. Of course as Petit has grown more and more popular, it’s getting harder to get a table.

But you always order the same thing…

I usually order the Super Food Salad with egg whites and a glass of wine.  Lately I’ll ask for a Mini Lasagne Bake as well.  A few times I ordered a whole pizza, but I couldn’t finish and brought it to the crew at PoTeaTo -- they loved it.

I also like PS.Cafe Petit because I get to meet a lot of new people. Some are first-time visitors and othersare residents so it’s easier to make friends.  Some of them have told me that it reminds them of cafes in Paris or London.  This place has a “wow” factor, the food is very good, and the staff is excellent.  They are very friendly and know when to get a little cheeky with the customers.  Because that’s an art, you know -- if you get cheeky with the wrong customers they won’t come back!

Want to know more?

If you visit PS.Cafe Petit for takeaway lunch, feel free to say hello to Peter and ask him about Tiong Bahru life in the old days!