A small gathering in Singapore... (modem burner)

I was just posting responses in various threads and noticed that I have made 252 posts.  Well, since VC is celebrating its 253rd anniversary this year, I thought my 253rd post should be something a little special.  Following is a report on a get-together in Singapore last week.

As those, who know me well are aware, I believe that people and friends are an integral component to the whole watch collecting experience.  Over the years, I have met the proverbial "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly".  Without any doubt some of the good, if not the best, are many of the folks from Vacheron Constantin.

For this reason, when I heard that Mr. Juan-Carlos Torres would be visiting Singapore, I asked if I could have the honor of his company for a small private dinner that I was hosting.  Charly and some of the senior management from VC were going to be in Asia for various meetings and functions and luckily for us, Singapore was one of their stops.

My intention was to bring together a small group of friends for an evening of great food and fun conversation.  During the course of the evening, a few nice watches also appeared.  Though, for reasons of discretion, close-ups were not taken.  I can report that there was a Saint Gervais sighting, along with a number of new Quai de l'Ile pieces in various configurations.

It should be noted that Charly and the entire VC team are people who have a passion for good food.  This is something that is also shared by some of my watch buddies here in Singapore, so dinner was planned for a small Japanese restaurant that we regularly visit.  The restaurant, Rakuichi, brings in fresh fish from Japan four times every week, so we are always assured of having the highest quality food there.

Without further ado, here are some pictures from the evening, which became a glorious 5 hours of amazing food, the finest watches and most importantly, great friends.  I wish to thank my good friend, Tay Kok Choon, for taking these pictures.  I hated to tear him away from his dinner, but I thought it would be nice to share with my fellow Loungers some memories of a truly special evening.

For this dinner, we opted to book the entire restaurant so as to ensure our privacy and a comfortable environment for our gathering.  As VC has a tradition of organizing the absolute best events, I knew that we needed to meet certain standards.  However, given a choice, I will always choose food quality over a fancy venue.  Rakuichi provided a nice intimate setting and as you will see, the absolute best in food.

The front portion of the restaurant is where the sushi bar is located.  The restaurant removed the chairs and the sushi bar became an appetizer bar with a stunning array of tasty morsels and delicious finger food.

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

A wonderful platter of different appetizers including grilled green chili peppers (Singaporeans love their chilies), boiled yam balls, fried prawns and freshly grilled puffer fish.  There were also some fresh, luscious oysters served with ponzu sauce.

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

Some big guy (namely me…) making sure that the lovely lady guests were enjoying themselves and trying the different items on the bar.

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

Some crispy fish crackers with a nice Japanese mayonnaise dip.

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

One of the really special treats was a delicious fish liver.  Unfortunately, I forgot the name of the original fish, but the chef had it flown in the morning of our dinner and wanted us to enjoy it.  Charly described it as a cross between foie gras and tofu as he savored it.  This was one of the first items to be finished.

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

A platter of freshly boiled edamame, which is a typical Japanese snack often enjoyed before meals.  In the background, you can see that Charly is enjoying one of the appetizers.

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

Christian Selmoni (Product Director), Charly and Larry Wee.  Larry is the well-known jornalist, who recently produced his annual Watch Supplement for the Business Times.  Besides writing about watches, Larry is a highly respected columnist, who writes about the financial markets and currencies.  These three gentlemen are enjoying their food while engaging in an interesting discussion about the current global economic situation and its impact on the watch industry.

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

While the front portion of the restaurant was setup for our drinks and appetizers, the other section was going to be used for the sit down portion of our dinner.  As we were a small group of 15, the guests were divided between 2 tables.

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

Okay, time for everyone to be seated and to begin some very serious eating.  Bring on the food!

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

Well, before we start, I try to offer a few welcoming comments and not sound like a fool…  A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

Following my welcome, Charly graced us with a few words, which were far more eloquent than mine.  Now, it is time to eat!

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

Matsusaka beef tataki (thinly sliced semi-grilled beef served with a light ponzu sauce).  This meat was simply spectacular and so well marbled that it literally melted in your mouth.  The quality of the beef rivaled any other Wagyu or Kobe beef that I have previously had and the marbling grade was probably a 9.

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

Marc Guten (International Director) and Jenny Hui (Marketing Manager, SE Asia).  Jenny is a well-known face in the Singapore watch community and it is with a touch of sadness that she is leaving our little red dot.  However, our loss is China’s gain as she will be moving to Shanghai and joining VC there.  Good luck Jenny, you will be missed…  A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

Fresh Australian lobster and Japanese Kyushu flounder sashimi.  The lobsters were alive just prior to their presentation to us.  As an indication of the freshness of these shellfish, the head and antennae were still moving when it was served at the table.  I am no expert and would guess that the nerves and muscles were still reacting.  Slightly unnerving to a few but it was quite delicious.

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

David Heng (Managing Director, SE Asia) taking a momentary break from the food to check out and admire another fine VC timepiece.  Credit must be given to David as he was the person who introduced me to Rakuichi.  It has now become a regular luncheon destination for us.  Whenever we are having lunch and trying to decide where to dine, one of us can just say the word “fish” and we immediately know where we are going.

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

A truly luxurious platter of fresh sashimi including abalone, bluefin tuna belly, amberjack, snapper, sea urchin, pan shell, ark shell and botan prawn.  Not only was this an incredible array of delicious seafood, but it was so artfully presented that it almost looked too good to eat.  However, I said “almost” and we ultimately finished each and every last bit of fish.

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

Christian Selmoni (Product Director) is one of the creative geniuses at the manufacture.  He is truly passionate about watches and has great respect for not only VC but also other brands.  It is always enjoyable to have a chat with him and discuss all things horological.  Shhh, but there are many more terrific timepieces coming from VC…  A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

After all of the fresh sashimi, it was now time to have some grilled items.  First, we had the sweetest Hokkaido king crab and then we were presented with this variation on the “mixed grill”.  Included were Matsusaka beef, scallops, eggplant with miso, Matsutake mushrooms, 2 styles of pork belly, king prawns and more!

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

Felicia Wong (New Marketing Manager, SE Asia).  While we are sad to be saying goodbye to Jenny, we are also very happy to welcome Felicia to the Singapore watch community.  She is a great addition to the VC team and I am looking forward to supporting her in the future.

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

Time for a little more fish!  This is Aburi sushi, which is lightly grilled fish on top of sushi rice.  We were each given three pieces: bluefin tuna belly, salmon belly and sea eel.  The interesting thing about this sushi is that it is grilled by using a small blow torch flame to cook the fish.  After the grilling, either a little sauce is brushed on or some seasoning is grated over the top of the sushi pieces.  I absolutely love this…  A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

A last photo of Charly as he seems to have reached his capacity.  Like all of us, he was overwhelmed by the food and seemed quite content with his dinner.

A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

And now we come to the ending of our glorious meal.  The final offering was a platter of fresh fruit, which was probably the only thing that any of us could handle after all that we had already eaten.  However, in keeping with everything being special at this dinner, the fruit was specially imported from Japan.

I hope that you enjoyed this photo essay of a wonderful evening.  I want to once again thank Kok Choon for his excellent photos.

Amazingly, even with all of the food pictured here, there were a couple of other dishes including a lobster head miso soup and a steamed bean curd skin wrapped fish with shark’s fin sauce.  To say that we ate to our heart’s content would be a massive understatement.  However, while the food was incredibly good, the most memorable aspect of the evening was the time spent with good friends.  I consider myself to be most fortunate that I can call the Vacheron Constantin team, be it those from Geneva, Hong Kong or Singapore, my friends.  Their company made this evening so special and in fact, we are already planning for the next time… A small gathering in Singapore...  (modem burner)

10/02/2008 - 18:12
10/03/2008 - 02:43
10/03/2008 - 06:18
10/04/2008 - 02:45
Thanks Duncan for sharing this extraordinary dinner
10/02/2008 - 14:07
Happy to see how you look like Unhappy that I missed "Rakuichi" (I was in Singapore in august)...
Thanks Lin. Consider Rakuichi as incentive to come back. :-) (nt)
10/02/2008 - 14:23
its lunch time here and I am ravenous after your post :-) I admit that
10/02/2008 - 14:14
the best part of watches; collecting and the internet is the people you meet and the friends you make Its good to see so many familiar faces. Larry is a great guy, I haven't seen him in ages though. Christian Selmoni is truly passionate about watches (which surprisingly in the watch industry doesn't seem to be the norm!!!) and someone who is a fan of Urwerk or MB&F gets all my respect  . PS: Duncan you really know how to treat them ladies
Hahaha... Someone else just sms'ed me that they were hungry...
10/02/2008 - 14:22
from reading my post. Well, when you come to Singapore, we can try to reprise this meal in your honor. Though my marriage was an utter failure, I do think I have learned a thing or two over the years about how a lady wants to be treated.  Also, the ladies of VC Singapore are very nice and deserve the very best. Cheers, Duncan
Re: Hahaha... Someone else just sms'ed me that they were hungry...
10/02/2008 - 14:53
Great post, Duncan! Thank you... It sounds like an open invitation to come to Singapore I haven't bee since 1970 It also looks like there is a tremendous watch aficionado community there. Now if I could only find a medical conference to "attend" I look forward to meeting you one day soon, Duncan! Best wishes, Joseph
Thanks Joseph. On behalf of the Singapore Tourism Board...
10/02/2008 - 16:25
there is definitely an open invitation to Singapore.  If Alex comes to town, then I am sure that we can arrange a special dinner for Hour Loungers. Yes, there is a very vibrant and active watch community in Singapore and I have found it to be a great place to be a collector. I believe that Singapore is home to some medical conferences as it is aggressively working to be at the forefront of medical research. Hope that you can make a visit here sometime. Cheers, Duncan
Wow! Thanks much for the photos -
10/03/2008 - 14:30

they are delicious!! made me instantly home-sick Ladies are very simple into the 21st century: - lunch at a place like Rakuichi twice+ per week

- numbers of watches (as presents) that can rival her jewellery,

thus a gentleman can keep any beast on the leash Mind me passing the (food) photos to a friend in London? He just opened a JP resto at Knightsbridge, the presentations (of the dishes) are very inspiring! Cheers, K.

Errr, I am not sure if I understood you but I would not be...
10/04/2008 - 03:07
inclined to referring to any lady as a "beast" and keeping her "on a leash". As the pictures do not belong to me, I would prefer that you not take them from the site for your friend.  If he is interested then perhaps you can just direct him to this site and he can take a look at them here. Duncan
Re: Errr, I am not sure if I understood you but I would not be...
10/07/2008 - 17:58
Sorry, that was a bad example then.
Overwhelming event: first the company and secondly the watches...
10/02/2008 - 14:53
I guess the food was also delicious as described by you with finesse in the report. Thanks for sharing, Duncan! Being a lucky guy, in your case, has just taken up a new perspective for me
Thanks Radek. I am a very lucky guy...
10/02/2008 - 16:32
with the opportunity to enjoy delicious food, some wonderful and remarkable timepieces and some very good and special friends.  Yes, very lucky indeed... Cheers, Duncan
Now that's my kind of small gathering.....
10/02/2008 - 16:13
Duncan, you certainly know how to host a dinner!   Japanese food is one of my favourite cuisines, and this meal just looks like a series of gastronomic joys shared with friends. What more could one wish for? I can't believe that even the fruit was specially imported!!
Thanks A.P. The one thing that you can count on is....
10/02/2008 - 16:37
that any event that I organize or host, will have good food. It was a memorable evening and something that we hope to repeat in the not too distant future. Cheers, Duncan
Thanks for sharing Duncan.
10/02/2008 - 17:13
I wish I had read your post before I left for Singapore last week. That restaurant is a gem. Oh well,maybe next time...... Cheers Fernando
Thanks Fernando. Our watch buddies are also foodies...
10/02/2008 - 18:03
so we can always recommend a restaurant or two for yuor next trip to Singapore. Cheers, Duncan
Delicious story, Duncan
10/02/2008 - 18:12
Thanks for sharing, Duncan.   I would have loved to have been a part of such wonderful event, even just to listen to Charly, the rest of the VC crew and all you big-time watch afficionados.  I would have loved to see the watches in attendance too! Fortunately, I was not as badly affected as Alex since am not big on sea food, especially raw fish (although it is a big disadvantage when you live in Japan).  Well, what can I say, I am only half Japanese (... and half T-Rex) so your juicy narrative and the photos still got my mouth watering for the Matsuzaka beef!! I have never been to Singapore but I am sure it is one hell of a place to shop and dine! Thanks again. Cheers! Kazumi
Thanks Kazumi. While fish and seafood get most of the attention...
10/03/2008 - 03:07
when it comes to Japanese cuisine, there are many fine presentations and dishes with meat being the focus.  I do know some others who are not fond of fish and I checked to make sure that Charly and the others all ate sushi and sashimi.  Thankfully, everyone was more than happy to gobble up the seafood. I think you should makle a trip down to Singapore and experience a utopia for both food and watches. Cheers, Duncan
Re: A small gathering in Singapore... (modem burner)
10/02/2008 - 18:24

Great pictures, watches and food. Just changed my lunceon meeting to the local Sushi bar after reading yout post.



Thanks Ray. Seems like this post is creating hunger pangs...
10/03/2008 - 03:10
around the world.  Now I am thinking that I might need to have some sushi for lunch today.... Cheers, Duncan
An excellent gathering with good friends and delicious food.
10/02/2008 - 19:52

Singaporeans are very passionate about watches and food as well! Honorary guests as well there...well done Duncan! Thanks for the report.

Thanks Rei. Hope to catch you next time in Jakarta.
10/03/2008 - 03:14
By the way, there is a very good Japanese restaurant in Jakarta.  I do not remember the name but I can tell you that the food was amazing.  Danny from Time Place brought us there and if I recall correctly, it is in an office building.  If you want the name and address, then let me know and I can get it for you. Cheers, Duncan
Sure Duncan, let me know if you plan to be in town next time.
10/03/2008 - 06:10
I can take you around. Hm...Japanese rest in office buliding...there are few of them. There's actually a street filled with Japanese karaoke/bars and restaurants where you don't feel like you are in Jakarta...prices are high though.
Thanks Rei. Not sure when the next time will be as...
10/03/2008 - 11:38
I do not get to Jakarta very often these days. Thanks again, Duncan
Well Duncan, it appears a great time was had by all and
10/03/2008 - 02:07

you really outdid yourself. Congratulations and I too am now very hungry for some Japanese food and maybe a VC watch or two, but you already knew that!

Very, very nice.



Thanks Tim. Maybe the next time you come to Singapore,
10/03/2008 - 03:16
I can take you to the restaurant.  I can provide the food but I will leave it to VC and their ADs to provide you with the watches. Cheers, Duncan
10/03/2008 - 02:43

That was one great report and brings back a lot of memories of the kinds of foods and atmosphere that I greatly enjoyed when I was living on the little red dot.


Thanks KCC. The little red dot does have its plus points. :-)
10/03/2008 - 03:19
When did you live here? Cheers, Duncan
'96 and '97
10/03/2008 - 04:36
I did work for M1 and Motorola for their CDMA project, then I worked with Lucent for one of their Indonesian projects.  I used to live a couple of blocks off of Orchard Rd. just west of Downtown area. KCC
That was the same time that I first came to Singapore...
10/03/2008 - 04:41
as I spent a couple of weeks here in 1996 for a conference and then moved here in 1997. Hope that you can come back sometime. Cheers, Duncan
That is my plan
10/03/2008 - 04:55
I am definitely planning on coming back. probably after I retire in a couple of years.  I will definitely enjoy myself more when I won't have to slave away 50 hrs a week like I was back then. KCC
We look forward to welcoming you back to the little red dot. (nt)
10/03/2008 - 05:10
Thanks Duncan for the delicious post.
10/03/2008 - 04:27

It is good to see some familiar faces. Regards Ling

Thanks Ling. It was a wonderful evening with good friends. (nt)
10/03/2008 - 04:42
A Big Thank You to Duncan
10/03/2008 - 06:18

Hi folks, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Duncan for his generosity in extending the invite to me and we really had a wonderful evening with some friends in Singapore and the VC team, truly amazing and unforgetable evening! Like Charlie Lai of VC Hong Kong said it, "its a feast we will not forget in out life!" and I am 100% sure that no one left the restaurant less than 100% full :) Mr. Juan-Carlos Torres also mentioned that this is the very first time for him, and many other brands he believed, when a Customer/collector has held such a wonderful dinner at his own expense and this just goes to show what a wonderful person Duncan is! Thanks Duncan once again for this great gathering! Cheers KokChoon

Many, many thanks KC for your very kind words and...
10/03/2008 - 11:44
for your terrific photos. For me, it is about friends and it was my pleasure to bring together some very good ones from all over.  I am so glad that you enjoyed yourself as that was the aim for the evening. We do love our fish, as evidenced by our lunch today. Cheers, Duncan
Re: Many, many thanks KC for your very kind words and...
10/04/2008 - 10:17

Yes buddy, the fish is indeed very good  yummy.... Cheers KC

Anytime you are in the mood for more, then just give a call. :-) (nt)
10/04/2008 - 10:50
KC congrats on you fantastic (as usual) photos (nt)
10/03/2008 - 11:57
KC is truly "Da Man"!
10/03/2008 - 13:21
What makes me appreciate his great work even more is that he does everything simply for the love and passion of it.  I am sure that he could ask for money for his efforts but he wants to keep this as a pure hobby.  Kok Choon is a class act and deserving of admiration and accolades. Cheers, Duncan
Thanks Alex
10/04/2008 - 10:04
Hi Alex, Thanks for your kind words :) Photography is another of my hobby and I am still learning. Also, to take good photos, a fantastic environment, great subjects and the photographers' involvement are all important aspects and with all these combined together, photos will normally turned out to be better than normal.... Thanks to Duncan's generosity and it was indeed a wonderful evening with friends, hope you can join us the next time... Cheers KokChoon
Nice Photos!
10/04/2008 - 08:32
Dear Kok Choon! Thank you for the beautiful images you captured for Duncan's function. I was wondering what kind of camera and lenses you used in taking them?  I am also a keen and passionate photographer, and was very impressed with the high quality of your pictures. Best regards JAMES
Hi James, KC is very generous with his help and advice.
10/04/2008 - 09:11
I am sure that he will come by to answer your questions in the not too distant future. Cheers, Duncan
Thanks James
10/04/2008 - 10:11
Hi James, Thanks for your kind words. Photography is another of my hobby thus it was really my pleasure when Duncan asked. In fact, I would have volunteered even if he did not ask ;) I am basically a Canon person. The equipment used was Canon 5D body with EF 24-105mm F4 L lens and EX-580 II flash, for this particular event shooting. For shooting watches, I used Canon 5D body with EF 100mm F2.8 lens, and MT-24 Ring Flash, with a specialised acrylic shade to diffuse the light. Please let me know if you need other details and if you have some other tips for me, I would love to learn about it too :) Cheers KokChoon
I'm hungry too!!!.....
10/04/2008 - 02:45
Nice photos of a fun gathering.  Like some others posts here, it's been awhile since I've been in Singapore--about 15 years.  I was visiting a good friend who was working for Motorola and spent 3 weeks in the area using the island as a launching point for places like Penang Malaysia & Bali Indonesia. One thing I loved about Singapore was the food & the incredible variety of cuisines.  Your photos bring back a lot of memories of good eating there.  It was also fun eating at Newton Circus & sampling all the different dishes from the vendor stalls while enjoying the open air tables with friends. Viva Singapore!    Nicholas
Thanks Nicholas. Singapore is a perfect base in Asia...
10/04/2008 - 03:01
because IMHO it has the very best airline (Singapore Airlines) and the best airport (Changi) in the world.  Within 3 hours, you can visit such places as Bali, Bangkok, Vietnam and just about make it to Hong Kong as well.  The country may be small but it is so accessible to lots of terrific destinations. I think Singapore is a foodie paradise.  You can find the finest 5-star dining experiences, along with incredibly delicious meals at the hawker centres for US$2-3!  As you said, the variety is incredible and I must admit that the food was one of the reasons why I decided to stay in Singapore. Hope that you can come back sometime and we'll show you places that are even better than the famed Newton Circus. Cheers, Duncan
Re: Thanks Nicholas. Singapore is a perfect base in Asia...
10/04/2008 - 08:29
HI Duncan, I would like to add my congratulations on an excellent report on your dinner, which like for many others, has brought back fond memories of Singapore!   Thank you very much!  I try to stop over every time I am in the region to visit friends and sample the delicious food!  I am a big fan of the lovely oyster ommlette, satay and fish ball noodle soup at the hawker stalls you mention! I was interested to note the "dancing Crayfish" lobster you pictured.  A similar dish was once brought to the attention of animal rights activists on national television here when it was served up at a Japanese restaurant a few years back, stirring up quite a fuss!  Living in New Zealand, while the food here is quite fresh (particularly our lamb, beef, dairy and fruit/vegetables), most Kiwis are not used to food THAT fresh! Anyway, thanks again for a great report, and I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on your Quai de I'lle! Best regards JAMES
Thanks James. Singapore is a paradise for...
10/04/2008 - 09:09
foodies and watch collectors alike.  That's good enough for me... Glad to hear that you enjoy some of the more local food.  Do you have a favorite hawker centre? Yes, people do have issues from time to time with various dishes, be it live seafood or foie gras or shark's fin soup.  I think it best to just allow everyone to make their own choices and if there is something that you don't like or approve of, then don't eat it.  You also reminded me of a time when I was in Hong Kong, about 12 years ago and was served drunken prawns.  When they added the prawns into the cooking liquid, one of them tried to escape and literally leaped out of the pot... Cheers, Duncan