In our busy lives, it can be hard to find time to sit down and enjoy a good homecooked meal, whether it’s with family or friends. Dine Inn is here to change that, making it as easy as a click away.
Although we’ve written about Dine Inn’s community events in the past, this week, we finally got the time to sit down and really see what Dine Inn is all about with the idea behind the entire company in the first place: the chance to enjoy an entire home cooked meal at host’s own home!
For Singaporeans, this may initially seem like a strange experience. After all, why should we take the time to book a meal with a non-professional cook and, horrors of horrors, actually go to their home to eat at their dining table? Why not simply go to a regular restaurant like normal people, and eat there instead?
We asked ourselves these questions as we headed down to Racecourse Road on Sunday, having made a 7pm booking at host Daphne Ang’s house to have a taste of her five course Japanese Chirashi Sushi Dinner. Would it be awkward? How were we supposed to behave?
Our fears were assuaged the moment Daphne opened the door and warmly welcomed us with a big smile. Although located in an HDB block, stepping into her house makes you feel anywhere but. With smooth white walls, an open concept kitchen connected to the dining room, and plenty of potted plants in porcelain bowls all around, there was an immediate sense of peace and zen when we stepped into Daphne’s house.
The brains behind the house is none other than Daphne’s architect sister, who designed the four-bedroom apartment for Daphne when she moved back from Canada three years ago with her husband and daughter due to work. Prior to Canada, Daphne had also lived in Japan for a good number of years, and her beautiful, minimalist home really reflected that.
Daphne provided an incredibly hospitable experience for us, and having such a fascinating backstory, we naturally wanted to have a long talk with her. As we sat down at the impeccably clean marble table, we noticed that she’d even prepared a handwritten menu for us to refer to, a nice touch that showed just how much effort she put into the entire process.
The open concept kitchen of course, was extremely conducive for us to speak to her, as she played Mozart in the background (‘the safest composer you can pick!’). Bringing out a ginger drink with herbs she’d grown herself along with some tasty appetizers, she talked to us about her life in Japan, and was always ready with a fascinating anecdote she’d have gained from living overseas, be it the first time she tried ‘dancing scallop’ or her experience dealing with Japanese businessmen.
All the while, Daphne was also busy preparing the meal itself. We started off dinner with Grilled Shishamo Fish with Home-made Kuro-Mame (Black Beans), and we could see that she had learnt plenty during her time in Japan. Instead of the overly fried version we’re used to, Daphne’s Shishamo was pleasantly crunchy while retaining much of the original taste, and complemented the sweet Kuro-Mame. Daphne then brought out the second dish: Braised Shoyu Chicken with Bonito Okra, the latter being a personal favourite dish she enjoyed making often.
As she prepared the main course, we discussed what exactly it was that motivated Daphne to join Dine Inn in the first place. Simply put, it was her joy of cooking. Daphne runs a blog that details easy home cooking recipes, such as cooking entire meals with a rice cooker alone. She had hoped that Dine Inn would have been a useful platform for her to share the joy of cooking with her future guests, meeting interesting people and promoting the notion that cooking is actually really easy. This showed through Daphne’s main course of vegetable nimono, which consisted of konjac jelly, lotus roots, flat beans, carrots and chicken in a stew, which she had prepared in a rice cooker earlier in the day. The main highlight of the dinner of course, was the chirashi don promised in the menu.
Although the two of us were a smaller crowd than she was used to, she made it work, serving up a bed of seasoned rice layered with fine strips of omelette and topped with pickled mackerel, smoked salmon and tiny sprigs of herbs, delicately served in a wooden Japanese Okamochi Box. In addition to the chirashi, Daphne also served up a plate of rice blanketed by a layer of omelette, which came with some ikura (fish roe) and amaebi (sweet prawns), as well as homemade miso soup. What was impressive was the amount of attention to detail and the beautiful plating that Daphne put the effort into. Daphne explained that she got her ingredients fresh from various locations, with different markets offering advantages in areas others couldn’t, be it the unique items from Japanese supermarkets such as Isetan, or the good prices or freshness of wet market produce.
Rounding off the meal, Daphne brought out some homemade sweets, including a biscuit with a surprise centre, and umeshu jelly, both a sweet end to the entire experience. As we bid Daphne goodbye, we thought to ourselves just how amazing we had felt after the entire meal. Although Daphne is not a professional chef, we could see and taste the sheer amount of heart and soul she put into her food, and that is something very few restaurants here can offer. Daphne herself was a very friendly host, and we found ourselves talking to her throughout the meal, never running out of conversation topics and continually intrigued by her life, and of course, helped by her beautiful home.
Although we can’t speak on behalf of all Dine Inn hosts, we must say that we left Daphne’s house with a warmth in our hearts and smiles on our faces. There was something immensely rewarding about how genuine and sincere Daphne was with her desire to serve up a good meal, and we realized then that what Dine Inn was promoting went far beyond food alone.
A meal at another’s place is an exchange of experiences if you come with the willingness to learn about each other, and as we’ve mentioned before, you can tell a lot about a person from the food they prepare. This was undoubtedly an amazing first experience for us with Dine Inn’s host experiences, and we urge readers who are still on the fence to give this a shot, leave your apprehension at the door and book yourself a homecooked meal with Dine Inn. Who knows? You might just walk away learning something new and making a new friend.
For more information on Dine Inn, check out their website and download the application here to find out how to connect yourself to more food, or your food to more people. In addition, you can even get a 15% discount with our exclusive code BAKCHORMEEBOY15 when you make your booking online!