You can never discuss NS without talking about the food served in the cookhouse and the combat rations provided in the most tropical of jungles. They are integral fodder in the experience, with both mind-blowing and mind-boggling dishes that accentuate the NS experience.
We asked some of our NSmen to share their favourite dish from NS days, and some interesting culinary experiences at the cookhouse!
“The chicken curry I had at Lakiun Camp was to die for. It was so flavourful that it felt almost like a home-cooked meal. When you’ve spent days in the Bruneian jungle (which trust me, isn’t a walk in the park), meals like this nourished me with much-needed motivation.
Speaking of time in the jungle, I once had a field camp where it rained throughout the five days we were there. This was my first major field camp, and it was a horrible experience just being constantly drenched while having to consume cold (and wet) combat rations. There was this one dinner however, when my unit benevolently provided out-rations (food cooked directly from the cookhouse). The food was the same food that they served in the cookhouse. But in this instance, the meal tasted like a feast made for the kings. When you have spent almost a week surrounded by insects, trees, mud and rations, any cooked food tastes amazing.” – CPL Noel Low, 3SIR
“It may sound fancy but my favourite dish was probably the plate of aglio olio pasta that I had once in Sembawang Camp. Even to this day, my platoon still gushes over it. However, food can be a luxury when you’re occupied. Once, my friends and I went to the cookhouse late as we had quite a bit of vehicle maintenance to complete. One of the items in the cookhouse’s menu that day was donburi – I mean, who doesn’t love donburi? But we weren’t the only ones who were aware of this special offering that day. We were just a little late to the cookhouse and there were no more plates of donburi left. So now, if there is a special menu that the cookhouse has prepared for the day, we make sure we’re first to the door! Also, a special shoutout for the spicy pasta combat ration (as you can tell, I have a soft spot for pasta)!” – CPL Alexander Soo, 3AMB
“I remember the curry chicken they served during my time. Despite how primitive the cooking was back then, they managed to cook up the best curry chicken I had had in a while. It may stem from the fact that most of the food was not exactly the best – older NSmen like myself will remember the ever-notorious sour fish (they aren’t joking about the name) and some food items that we called “dog biscuits” – another term people my age will remember.
There was this hilarious incident when a friend of mine, who worked at the cookhouse, told me that they had frozen pieces of fish stored in the refrigerator for a very long time. He said it was for two years but I doubted it was for that long. Ironically, it was also the best fish dish they served. Times were simpler then, but also less refined. Young people are so much luckier now!” – CPL Jonathan Leh, SCS
“I don’t have a particular favourite, but I remember the food in Kranji Camp 3 being pretty good. However, to me, food merely serves as a gateway for people to connect and socialise. I fondly remember having breakfast in the canteen of Jurong Camp, where they made these beautiful sunny side-up eggs (I love eggs) and the most incredible sugarcane drinks. When you accompany this with amazing company, the experience itself makes my entire military journey worth it.” – CPL Aloysious Yee, 63FMD
In appreciation of our NSmen as we commemorate 55 Years of National Service (NS55), servicemen can enjoy over 180 exclusive NS55 deals. More info on the deals here: www.safra.sg/
If you’re not yet a SAFRA member, you can get your complimentary membership as part of the NS55 Recognition Package (also valid for existing members). Register here!
Share your favourite NS memories with us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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Main photo: SPH Media Trust