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Home Brew

What is the flavor of home? What is the flavor of Singapore? There are plenty of national dishes, including chicken rice. But if there is a national breakfast, it’s eggs, toast, and coffee; three simple elements that constitute the flavor of home for many Singaporeans, wherever they are in the world. In this episode, student-producer Ruby introduces us to the simple breakfast served at kopitiam, or coffee shops, that brew a strong cup of coffee throughout Singapore, and she highlights one of the companies that has standardized this Singaporean breakfast and taken it overseas: Ya Kun Kaya Toast. She also speaks with cultural geographer Ong Chin Ee, who shares his thoughts on Singapore’s food culture, globalization, and the dangers of mummifying foodways. 

Sound effects from freesound.org. Music from audioblocks.com.

Read the transcript

Listen to Season 1 here

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – References – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– Curtis, Erin M. 2013. “Cambodian Donut Shops And The Negotiation Of Identity In Los Angeles.” In Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader, edited by Robert Ji-Song Ku, 13-29. New York: NYU Press.

– Loi, Jesher. 2017. “Commentary: Spreading The Love, Taking A Piece Of Singapore Abroad.” Channel News Asia, May 27, 2017. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/commentary-spreading-the-love-taking-a-piece-of-singapore-abroad-8848728.

– Tay, Samantha. 2017. “Ya Kun Success Story: How A Humble Coffee Stall Grew Into 100 Outlets.” AsiaOne, June 2, 2017. https://www.asiaone.com/business/ya-kun-success-story-how-humble-coffee-stall-grew-100-outlets.

– Ya Kun International. 2002. “The Ya Kun Story – History.” Accessed September 5, 2019. http://yakun.com/the-ya-kun-story/history/.

Additional links about Ya Kun:

– Dr Ong Chin Ee Profile – https://www.tourlab.org/

– Low, Kelvin E. Y. 2013. “Olfactive Frames Of Remembering: Theorizing Self, Senses And Society”. The Sociological Review 61, no. 4 (November 2013): 688-708. https://doi:10.1111/1467-954x.12078.

Our student-producer Ruby during one of the recording sessions for the episode.

– The iconic Singapore breakfast: Runny eggs, Nanyang style coffee – kopi, and toast with kaya jam and butter
Image source: Ya Kun Facebook


– A Ya Kun outlet at a shopping mall in Singapore (Suntec City)
Image Source: Ya Kun Singapore Facebook


– A branch of Ya Kun in South Korea. Note the similarities in design of the shop compared to Singapore.
Image Source: The Straits Times

Published in Podcast Episodes S2

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