My Selection: Could you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
Ken Hasegawa: My name is Ken. I was Chef Sommelier of Restaurant Andre since its opening in 2010 until 2016. After spending 10 years in Singapore, I am now based in Osaka, doing freelance sommelier.
MS: What does your job entail exactly?
KH: I was the only staff who was in charge of wine and beverage for the first 3 years, so everything related to wine was on me. Wine selection, import from the winery, creating wine list, purchasing from suppliers, organizing wine cellar, stock control, cost control, all the wine service to the guests. . . It is like an endless task.
MS: How long have you been living in Singapore and what brought you here?
KH: I stayed in Singapore for 10 years. Before coming to Singapore, I was doing wine business in Kobe. A Japanese restaurant owner was looking for a sommelier who can speak English. I did not know even the exact location of Singapore, but I wanted to challenge something new, so I said yes to the boss.
MS: With work done, how do you like spending your free time in the Lion City (Do you have any favorites areas or places where you spend your free time)?
KH: My job is serving the guests every day. When I am off, I want to be a guest just like anyone else. I enjoy having lunch or dinner in more often casual places than fine dining to relax, such as Japanese Izakaya, French or Italian bistro. And also I like to enjoy great nature of the island on the equator. Mount Faber and Labrador Park are my favorite places for jogging around my home.
MS: Singapore is famously a melting pot of cultures and, as a
result, also of multiple cuisines. What are your favorites?
KH: I personally love Indian food! I like to taste different types of curry together with lots of vegetable. It tastes good and it is good for health. But spicy food is not easy to pair with wine to be honest… And I feel very happy to see more and more casual Izakaya style. Unpretentious, authentic, casual dining makes me feel I’m home.
MS: Where do you like to have dinner in Singapore? Could you name your Top 3 picks among restaurants, bars & cafes in Singapore?
MS: Selecting wine depends very much on the occasion. When do you like to drink wine? On its own / with a meal / alone / with company?
KH: For me wine is a drink to enjoy with good company to share the pleasure, to enjoy life. Of course with good food in any occasion, at home, in a restaurant, outing like picnic… No wine, no life.
MS: Are there any wines that you particularly like and would recommend to our readers? Or maybe you have your favorite pairings with the food you mentioned before?
KH: Many people ask me this question and I always reply it is impossible for me to name particular item or category of wine that I love. Because I love wine. Wines from any country, any region, made of any kinds of grape variety, made by any wine maker, white or red, still wine or sparkling wine, dry or sweet. I love all. Life is too short to discover all the wines on this planet.