5Qs with Pearly Tan

With travel bans in place due to the global pandemic, it pains us to know that people are separated from their families and friends. HOur 5Qs series is a chance for you to get to know more about folks in the Singapore Global Network community, where we pose 5 questions to exciting individuals to find out more about what they do!

By SGN | 4 May 2020

Pearly and her family on the UC Berkeley campus enjoying the sunset

Pearly Tan moved to the US seven years ago to attend grad school at UC Berkeley. She met her husband, Brian Drayton, a business owner, while working as a journalist during her first weekend in America and now has two kids! Pearly is the web editor for Facebook Business News, runs a family business in Berkeley and volunteers with various non-profit organisations. Whenever she feels homesick, Pearly tells stories about Singapore to her children over home-made chicken rice.


What is your favourite place in the Bay Area?

The UC Berkeley campus, where we frequently hang out as a family. With two little ones under 4, we spend a lot of time out here cycling, playing hide-and-seek among the trees and sharing food. The college is crowded during the academic semester and empties out during the holidays and the diversity is beautiful to watch.


What is your favourite food in the Bay Area?

One of our family’s favorite places to eat is House of Curries on Solano Ave. The small restaurant serves up piping hot lamb curry that’s tender and well-spiced, a cheese naan that is filled with stretchy, delicious mozzarella and a cream pepper chicken that is completely worth the 15 minutes it takes to cook. But honestly, give me fried black carrot cake any day. For that, Shiok Singapore Kitchen in Menlo Park is our go-to.

Pearly before she devoured her black carrot cake from Shiok Singapore Kitchen

What is the most exciting thing that you do?

I have a few things going on! I am the web editor for Facebook Business News where I manage the full lifecycle of website content. I also work with non-profit organisations Futures Without Violence and EmbraceRace to help reduce violence in society and encourage racial diversity.

Brian and I started a family business in 2014, Spokes Bike Lounge, specialising in community mobility. We are proud to say that we are the only bicycle shop in the world with bicycles from the top four kids’ brands in one spot – Woom, Cleary, Frog, and Islabike. We have also created an upcycling program that makes it affordable for families to keep their kids on size-appropriate bicycles and teach children to ride bicycles every second Sunday of the month.

Brian teaching 16-month-old Nicholas to ride a bicycle

What do you miss most about Singapore?

Food and family.

I miss my mother. We have our differences but becoming a mom has led me to realize how much of a smartass I was. I miss the fact that she used to meal-plan every weekend before grocery shopping at the Toa Payoh wet market, the fish porridge that she no longer makes, her longan, red date and ginkgo nut soup we had to drink before going to visit relatives on the first day of Chinese New Year, and I miss all the small packages of Old Chang Kee she would bring home after work.

I miss my aunt’s amazing New Year’s noodles with abalone. I miss fried Hokkien mee with pork lard and contemplating what to get at the Indian Rojak store.

Pearly’s parents with Pearly, Brian and their 1-year-old daughter Katherine at the Singapore Zoo in 2016

Tell us one fun fact about yourself!

I began playing the piano at the age of two and have spent years taking group and private lessons, competing and performing in concerts. When I moved to the US, I had to choose between a piano and a bed in my room. I chose the bed, but I bought a piano soon after.

It’s impossible to take away a part of me that forms my earliest memories. The same goes for Singapore. I may live abroad but Singapore is my home. I teach my children Mandarin at home, and often tell them news and stories about Singapore while feeding them chicken rice and roti prata that I cook.

(Photo credit: Pearly Tan)

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