Open Door Policy
Different groups of friends and folks wanting to check out Cynthia Chua x Ryan Clift-of-Tippling Club‘s Open Door Policy at 19 Yong Siak Street (Yong Siak View) in Tiong Bahru Estate meant repeat visits during its first fortnight. The space is long like many old shophouses and the feel is hip vintage with one exposed brick wall, a portion of old floor boards, old school metal tables and chairs. Design by Spa Espirit’s creative director Jerry de Souza and Cynthia Chua’s brother, Chua Koon Beng, who also made the copper pipe wall lights. The parentals said the white water pitchers were what you used to see in hospitals and had hygiene concerns about using porous wooden chopping boards as serving platters.
Interesting to sit at the counter looking into the show kitchen and the ballet of chefs and kitchenhands preparing the food, factory assembly-style, with Ryan Clift as director and taster (in the early days), arranging and anointing the dishes with garnishing with flourish. (Probably not so nice for the people being watched, though.)
Amongst the starters tried, we thought the puff pastry pizzetta (with lamb confit and greek salad garnish) most worth ordering. The steak tartare (with truffle mayo and potato chips) was decent, well mixed with capers and generously drizzled with truffle oil, while the flamed tuna carpaccio (with radish and yuzu salad) was fairly uninteresting.
Vegetarians were pleased to note that the vegetables didn’t just come as side dishes, but the portions for the spinach, broccoli, snap pea salad and goat’s cheese with pine nuts and the grilled carrot salad with snow peas, orange walnuts and cardamom dressing weren’t quite adequate as mains.
The confit duck leg (with puy lentils, sage and smoked bacon), pork belly (with parsnip puree, braised quinoa and celery), 48 hour cooked braised beef cheek (with mochi potatoes, carrot puree and snow pea tendrils) and roasted salmon (with panzanella salad) were adequately done. Nothing terribly exciting taste-wise but “comfort food” (as Tan Hsueh Yun put it) for the PMEB/DINK/yuppie, being the fish/pork/poultry/beef dishes one might find at their dinner parties. Food of this standard might also be found in French food stalls started by young chefs in coffee shops,
but for the higher price here, you get nice glassware, slightly prettier plating, atmosphere, air-conditioning, an interesting wine list and very cheery waitstaff.
The ice-cream ‘why just sunday’ reminded me of the desserts the kids assembled for their youth event earlier this year (though plated better) but chocolate and pistachio souffle (with creme anglaise) was well-prepared and the coffee, courtesy of 40 Hands, excellent…though the people who had to have sugar in theirs were justly punished with brown stuff clumped up in medicine bottles.
Holman Hunt, erstwhile Pre-Raphaelite, painted “The Light Of The World“, depicting Jesus in a white nightie, lit by the glow of an oil lamp, looking somewhat forlorn, about to knock on a door, perhaps hoping that the occupier of the house might let him in. The inspiration for this must have been Revelation 3:20:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Really pathetic. What if the occupier was tucked up cosily in bed and didn’t want to answer, or what if he was busy and in the midst of a delicate activity and couldn’t get up to open the door? Would Jesus then slink away into the night and try another door?
From Jesus’ own parables, his rapping on the door isn’t the irritating sound of yet another beggar looking for charity; it is the authoritative pounding of the master of the house asking his servants not to keep him waiting:
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-40 ESV)
If the person in control is actually Jesus, then it is we pathetic souls who are seeking entry to his house:
He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:22-30 ESV)
Does God have an open-door policy?
If he had one, would we dare to go in and meet him? Every where in the Bible, any one who actually met God (or his messenger an angel) was ready to pee in his pants, because it is a fearful thing for a sinner to meet the living God. (This also suggests that people who claim to have seen Jesus and describe him in terms applicable also to a warm fuzzy bunny might have been sadly mistaken.) A holy God cannot abide by evil sinners, hence the regulated layers of entry in the Old Testament temple – Gentile on the outside, Israelites in the inner court, then priests inside, then the Holy of Holies which the chief priest can only enter once a year after appropriately cleansing himself (and even then, with some fear and trembling, and with a rope and bell attached to his ankle in case he got struck dead inside…so people could pull his corpse out).
And why would we want to be with God? Because (i) he is our Maker; (ii) he is the source of anything good in this world – our relationships, our satisfaction, our happiness, our joy; (iii) the alternative sucks:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:1-8 ESV)
God does have an open-door policy but only for a limited period (as seen in Luke 13:22-30 above). And entry is only through faith – that is, trust that Jesus’ death does actually deal with our estrangement from God and open the door to God’s presence:
‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. (Revelation 3:8 ESV)