Fourgather: A Thai Street Food Haven in the Heart of Singapore – An Interview with Founders Ade Lau, Cecilia Ng, Jasmine Chen, and May Chaya

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Sawadee ka! Enjoy a taste of Thailand and have a thai-riffic time at Fourgather, located at the historic Amoy Hotel. Offering a vibrant fusion of authentic Thai street food, eclectic art, and lively music, Fourgather is the brainchild of four friends and founders Ade Lau, Cecilia Ng, Jasmine Chen, and May Chaya. The clever play on the word ‘foregather’ reflects their vision of creating a place where friends come together to enjoy great food and vibrant ambiance. What began as a humble home-based food delivery service during the pandemic has blossomed into a well-loved dining destination. Seamlessly blending the heritage of its unique location with the bustling energy of Bangkok, Fourgather invites diners to experience a slice of Thailand in the heart of Singapore.

The transformation of Fourgather from the home-based food delivery service, Arai Gor Mee, to a full-fledged restaurant is a testament to the founders’ dedication and vision. Their shared passion for Thai cuisine and the desire to recreate the relaxed atmosphere of Thai street food culture inspired them to embark on this ambitious venture. At Fourgather, every detail, from the vibrant décor to the meticulously curated menu, reflects their commitment to authenticity and quality. We had the pleasure of speaking with Ade Lau, Cecilia Ng, Jasmine Chen, and May Chaya to delve deeper into their vision, challenges, and the unique elements that make Fourgather a standout in Singapore’s culinary scene.

Interview with Ade Lau, Cecilia Ng, Jasmine Chen and May Chaya, founders of Fourgather

1) What inspired the creation of Fourgather as a modern Thai restaurant focusing on street food, art, and music, and can you elaborate on the specific experiences or influences that led to the development of this unique concept?

Ade: As a group, the four of us have always loved many different aspects of Thai culture, especially the food! While I was based in Australia in my 20s, my dad had encouraged me to open a Mookata restaurant but at that time, I decided to shelve the idea to pursue other interests. Fast forward to 2021, during the Heightened Alert phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was not able to travel back to Australia due to all the travel restrictions that were in place. So, my two-week stay in Singapore became indefinite and I started trying to find different ways to bide my time. This idea of opening a restaurant resurfaced in my mind and I felt inspired to start my own business. Eventually, three of us (Cecilia, May, and myself) started Arai Gor Mee, our very own home-based food delivery service that ran between April to October 2021. We had really strong support from the Thai community here in Singapore and soon we were selling out on weekends! We took that as a sign to rebrand Arai Gor Mee into Fourgather and bring Jasmine, who I met in 2022 through in-line skating, on board.

2) As co-founders, how did each of you collaborate and navigate the challenges of opening a restaurant, and what specific strategies led to the successful establishment of Fourgather?

Ade: Before Arai Gor Mee and Fourgather, none of us had any formal F&B experience. One thing that helped us was our past experiences in our respective jobs. I’m a photographer by trade and at Fourgather, I not only take care of the design of the space, but I’m also in the kitchen making sure that each dish comes out picture-perfect. So I think this gives me an eye for these details and also helped me create a photo-worthy space.

Jasmine: Before meeting the group and working with them on Fourgather, I was a producer at Mediacorp. As a producer, it’s all about meeting new people, organising and handling lots of different tasks, people all at the same time, which I do now for Fourgather as well when I’m managing the front-of-house and more.

Cecilia: At Fourgather, I manage the logistics and provide backend support and this is something that my past work experiences have helped me with as well. For the last 14 years, I’ve been working in engineering with a focus on maintenance and service and in this job, I primarily handle inventory management. Before this, I worked as a sales representative, and I think both roles have given me an edge to support procurement, logistics, and backend operations in Fourgather.

May: My cooking experience started when I was younger as I used to help my mum out at her papaya salad store in Thailand. Since then, I’ve been learning more and more about food by trying different dishes and also through YouTube! Now at Fourgather, I’m the Thai chef consultant but I’m more actively involved in the innovation process, and I come up with new recipes and ideas for the menu. For now, I’m also in the kitchen almost every day to make sure everything runs smoothly. So, overall, we would say that a combination of our past experiences and being adaptable is something that led to the success we’ve had in the opening stages so far.

3) The integration of art and music seems to be an essential part of the Fourgather experience. Could you elaborate on how you incorporate these elements into the restaurant, and what impact do you believe they have on your customers?

Ade: When we opened Fourgather, we really wanted to create a space that would bring the heart and energy of Bangkok to Singapore. If you visit Fourgather, you’ll find that there’s a very warm, design-led ambience with different pieces of art and decorative elements in every corner; these art pieces are all sourced personally by us in Bangkok. We play Thai music in the background as diners enjoy their meals. We have plans to introduce live acoustic music sets but are now pending all the necessary licensing approvals. With the combination of the art, music, authentic Thai food and overall ambience at Fourgather, we hope to transport our customers to the artsy district of Thong Lor without leaving Singapore.

From food to art, all things Thai take centrestage at Fourgather

4) Could you tell us more about the process of curating the decor and ambiance of Fourgather, particularly the sourcing of items from Thailand? How do these elements contribute to creating an authentic Thai street food experience?

Ade: All the decorative pieces like the artwork on the walls, fairy lights, other trinkets and even our cutlery have been meticulously sourced from our travels in Bangkok. When I was thinking about the design of the space and what it would look like, I already had a vision in mind. So, I would go online to source furniture pieces and see where they had it in Thailand. As for the artwork, I knew I wanted pieces that were quirky and eccentric. When we were in Thailand, we were searching through flea markets to find local Thai artists who had a similar art style to see if they had any pieces that could work in the space I had envisioned for Fourgather. At Fourgather, one of the art pieces in our main dining hall has ‘This Is Art’ stencilled on in neon and that was something I added to the painting to make it more interesting. The original piece was inspired by a traditional scene of street vendors and I wanted to pay homage to it but also add an interesting twist, and that’s the approach we take with our food at Fourgather as well!

5) As founders, what values or principles do you prioritise in the operation of Fourgather, and how do these values translate into the customer experience and the overall culture of the restaurant?

Ade: Something we prioritise at Fourgather is a customer-first mindset. With the space, the food and the service, we always have the customer in mind and we want them to leave Fourgather feeling both happy and satisfied. Another thing that’s really important to us is having happy staff. If our staff are unhappy while working, it also affects our customer’s experience when they dine at Fourgather.

6) Collaboration seems to be a significant aspect of Fourgather, from co-founding with friends to working with a Thai Head Chef Consultant. What have been some of the highlights of working together as a team, and can you share any advice or insights you would give to others on how to effectively work together as a team, especially in the context of a restaurant business?

Ade: One of the main highlights include seeing your friends every day and I think since starting on Fourgather together, we’ve all become much better friends. Part of the reason is seeing everyone’s hard work coming together. I think I speak for the rest of the team when I say that communication is very important. Even though all of us are focused on different aspects of Fourgather, we all work hand in hand and have to communicate effectively for things to run smoothly.

7) Could you share some insights into the menu development process at Fourgather? How do you ensure a balance between traditional Thai flavours and modern culinary trends while maintaining authenticity?

Ade: Before we even developed the menu, we all loved to eat traditional Thai food and we were always on the hunt for new places to try more food. So, I would say that gave us a lot of exposure to the different Thai dishes out there. Not to mention, the time we spent in Thailand eating and also being exposed to the local culture also helped us learn more about the flavours used in Thai cooking. When we were thinking about the food to serve at Fourgather, we used the traditional dishes as the foundation and building blocks and then we tried to see where we could tweak things for the local market, whether it’s in terms of presentations or flavours used within the dish. An example would be the Fisherman’s Harvest (Fried Fish Miang), here we used the boneless fish filets to make things easier to eat and we also present the dish in a way that we know Singaporeans will love. This process basically helped us find the balance of doing something in a modern way while honouring the authenticity of the original dishes.

Enjoy authentic and modern Thai street food at Fourgather

8) One of the highlights of Fourgather is its emphasis on offering a wide array of authentic Thai dishes. Could you share some of the favourite dishes among your patrons, and what sets these dishes apart from others on the menu?

Ade:  Some of the all-day crowd favourites would be:

    • Fourgather Matchstick Wings (S$11.90)
      • Fried split mid-joint wings coated in special aromatic sauce and crispy garlic, fried to perfection, served with sweet chilli sauce.
    • Thai Watermelon Salad (S$16.90)
      • A refreshing palate cleanser, this zesty watermelon salad comes drizzled in a special house-made sauce, topped with mint and crispy bits of snakehead fish.
    • Yum Salmon Salad (S$26.90)
      • For those who enjoy raw dishes, this has been pretty popular recently. It’s fresh and succulent salmon sashimi pieces tossed in a special Thai sauce, topped with onions and lime.
    • Moo Koop Foon (Roasted Rice Pork) (S$18.90)
      • We take glutinous rice and roast it till it develops a nice, rich and toasted flavour. Then we take some pork, coat it in that roasted rice and chilli powder and deep fry it so it’s very addictive.
    • Green Curry Chicken with Roti (S$15.90)
      • This dish features an aromatic blend of flavourful ingredients and herbs such as green chilli paste, kaffir lime leaves, fresh red chilli and basil with assorted vegetables.
      • Our Green Curry is a little different as we don’t serve it with white rice but instead, we serve it with prata! The prata acts like a sponge, soaking up all the flavours of the curry.
    • Tom Yum Soup (S$13.90)
      • We also have some classics on our menu like the Tom Yum Soup! We offer both a clear version and a milky version.
      • With the milky version, we make use of carnation milk instead of coconut milk to really help the herbs shine through.

These are some of the popular dishes at Fourgather as they’re authentic Thai street food dishes with a unique twist, some of which you can’t find elsewhere. For example, instead of serving our Green Curry with rice, we serve it with Roti instead.

9) What would you recommend as a must-try dish or experience for those visiting Fourgather for the first time?

Ade Lau

Ade: We would highly recommend first-time customers to try out the popular crowd favourites as shared above. Specifically, the Fourgather Matchstick Wings (S$11.90), the Moo Koop Foon (Roasted Rice Pork) (S$18.90), the milky version of our Tom Yum Soup (S$13.90) and our Thai Watermelon Salad (S$16.90).

Other popular dishes to try would also include:

    • Pad Mama Noodle (S$12.90)
      • Flavourful stir-fried instant noodles with a delicious blend of sauce and vegetables.
      • Comes with the option of chicken, pork, or seafood.
    • Thai Train Fried Rice (Khao Pad Rod Fai) (S$12.90)
      • This is a popular dish sold by vendors at train stations in Thailand, hence the name, ‘train fried rice’.
      • Served with a side of Thai fish sauce, cut chillies and lime, we recommend squeezing some lime on top of the rice to give it a nice sour tinge.
      • Comes with the option of chicken, pork, or seafood.
    • Fried Fish Miang (Fisherman’s Harvest) (S$44.90)
      • This dinner menu-only special features fresh, deboned sea bass that has been deep fried to crispy perfection and served on a plate garnished with an assortment of herbs and vegetables.
      • Similar to Ssam (Korean lettuce wrap), this dish is meant to be enjoyed by taking a piece of the fish, topping it with the selection of condiments, and wrapping it all together with a vegetable leaf before eating it in one bite.
    • Crispy Tamarind Fish (S$39.90)
      • This addictive dish is available during both lunch and dinner and features deep fried fish fillets bathed in a sweet-tangy tamarind sauce, topped with fried lemongrass herbs.

10) Lastly, what message would you like to convey to our readers who are looking forward to dining at Fourgather?

Ade: If you visit Fourgather, we hope that you’ll leave happy and satisfied after enjoying some good authentic Thai street food with us. We also hope that Fourgather can become a space where people feel welcome to return to for all occasions. Be it a casual catch-up over lunch with friends, or to celebrate important anniversaries such as birthdays, we hope for our guests to come back and create wonderful “foregather” memories with their loved ones at Fourgather.

Fourgather is more than just a restaurant; it’s a celebration of Thai culture and cuisine, brought to life by the passion and dedication of their founders. With its unique blend of traditional and contemporary elements, Fourgather offers a dining experience that transports you straight to the streets of Bangkok. Whether you’re there for a quick lunch or a leisurely dinner with friends, Fourgather promises a memorable and authentic Thai experience!

Fourgather is located at 76 Telok Ayer Street #01-02 (Lobby of Amoy Hotel within Far East Square) Singapore 048464 and is open Monday-Saturday between 11.30am-3pm and 5.30pm-11.30pm. 

All images credit to Fourgather


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