Tau-Suan

Soon Heng Hot and Cold Desserts: Hawkers we grow up with

Tau Suan

Our hawkers are really a big part of our lives here in Singapore, don’t you think?  Most of us would have grown up eating from the same hawker stall for years and and these hawkers would have become much more than just a person who sells food.

Aunty

I am sure that this particular lady hawker at Soon Heng Hot and Cold Desserts would have many regulars who have grown up (or grown old) eating at her stall.  I have met many hawkers but she was the first one I met whose smile was sweeter than her desserts!

I get a lot of different reactions whenever I pull out my DSLR camera.  Some hawkers ask why I am taking photos.  Others continue to work as if I wasn’t there.  But when Mrs Yang saw my camera, she quickly struck up her kawaii pose!

Lotus seeds
Lotus Seed Sweet Soup (Lian Zi Suan)

What first drew me to the stall was the availability of lian zi suan. (Lotus seed soupThis traditional Teochew sweet soup is not easy to find nowadays because of the rising cost of lotus seeds.  (A 200g pack of lotus seeds at the supermarket costs around $ 6!)  The only other stall that I have come across that sells this is “House of Dessert” at Tampines Round Market.  They actually stopped selling it for a period of time because of the increase in price of raw lotus seeds.  Thankfully, they started selling it again last year.

This soup is not difficult to cook but it is easy to get it wrong unless you get a tip from grandma (or from the internet nowadays).    Most of us would intuitively soak the seeds first before cooking, but this is the last thing you want to do as the seeds will ever turn into the nice, mealy, powdery texture no matter how long you boil them.  Instead, the seeds must go straight into hot boiling water for a while then followed by either a slow simmer or steam.  Once they are soft, simply add them to syrup which has been thickened with tapioca starch.

For all that trouble, I think most people wouldn’t mind forking out the $ 2 for a bowl of lian zi suan at this stall.  I think this is probably also the cheapest place where you can buy this in Singapore.  In fact, all her other desserts are also just $ 1!  Talk about old school prices.  When I asked Mrs Yang how she managed to keep prices so low, she just smiled and said that its her way of keeping her customers happy!

Aside from the lotus seed soup, her tau suan is also very good.  4.25/5What was impressive was how her you tiao remained so fresh!  I managed to try some of her other desserts like cheng tng and honey sea coconut.  They were average but at $ 1 a bowl, I don’t think anyone is complaining!

Stall

Conclusion

Old school sweet soups served with an even sweeter smile which will make you smile even more when all you need is some spare change to enjoy it!

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New Openings in Feb 2017: New Restaurants, Cafes, Bars, and Hawkers

13 restaurants, 6 cafes, 6 bars, and 7 hawkers. Because of the bad economy, some trends that I’ve been noticing show up in these new openings:

1. Fewer and fewer fine-dining restaurants. Eateries are moving towards casual dining.

2. Casual dining means that hawker food stalls are expanding into restaurant setting. This sounds counterintuitive; what?! people should be eating at hawkers, not restaurants, if we are in a bad economy. But people are used to some comfort, and these hawker-restaurants offer a good compromise.

3. More bars are opening, combining food and alcohol, because since people aren’t spending much on food, f&b establishments need to supplement their income. Alcoholics are spendthrifts, you don’t need much manpower to pour a drink, and the profit margin for alcohol is high.

4. Because of the bad economy, kids with rich parents aren’t opening cafes; parents just aren’t giving them money. The cafes are either holes in the wall or takeaway or opened by big companies. Small cafes become more specialized.

5. Young people are opening more Western food stalls in foodcourts, instead of cafes or restaurants.

These are the new openings in Feb 2017:


RESTAURANTS


D’Grill
10 Tebing Lane, Punggol East Park, Singapore 828836

16298703_10154527341409121_2398741543644485448_nLocated in one of the cargo containers in Punggol, D’grill serves pastas and seafood cze char dishes like lala and sambal stingray.


Don Meijin
201 Victoria street, Bugis+ #04-10, Singapore 188067
T: +65 6238 1011
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nonameFound inside the compound of Ramen Champion, Don Meijin’s signature dish, spicy chilli crab tendon, consists of tempura prawns, asparagus, pumpkin, fish fillet, eggplant, and kakiage, all of which are drizzled with chilli crab sauce.


eGrill & Piza
2 Handy Rd, The Cathay, #B1-01/02/03, Singapore 229233
T: +65 6736 3055
11.30am-10pm
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15622673_1042472619230007_1356267468132344324_nNo, this is not a spelling error. It is “piza.” It is a casual restaurant focused on Japanese-styled pizzas and skewers. Recommended: salmon mentai pizzaspicy teriyaki chicken pizza, grilled mackerel skewer, salmon belly fin skewer, and beef Köttbullar skewer.


Half Pound
8 Purvis Street Singapore 188587
T: +65 6906 1900
11.30am-11.30pm
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15994397_353261701721535_8736712999249125242_oHalf Pound is a burger and grill bar, which also serves pizzas and pastas. Unique items include deep-fried spare ribs ($ 15), honey butter fries ($ 10), and bacon and caramelized onion pizza ($ 18).. The half pound burger ($ 18) and mother of all burgers ($ 24) use Angus beef, and come with truffled gouda.


Hot Buns and Thunder Balls
39 Syed Alwi Rd, Vagabond Hotel, Singapore 207630
T: +65 6291 6677
12pm-3pm, 7pm-midnight
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bar-vagabond-homeTaking over the space of 5th Quarter, Hot Buns and Thunder Balls serves Asian-inspired burgers such as Slow Burn ($ 22, dark soy and spiced braised Iberico pork belly) and Sexy Indian ($ 18, chicken tikka). The namesake, Thunder Balls ($ 10),  is a dessert of ice cream and dried glutinous rice dumpling balls with a choice of filling.


K-Tower
74 Amoy St Singapore 069893
T: +65 6221 9928
11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30pm-10pm
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15894344_1632718577030222_4648101517071324219_nK-Tower serves the latest fad to hit Korea, a stacked 9-tier seafood, steamed in a tower. The juices trickle down, accumulating in a hot pot. A 3-tier, which includes lobster, costs $ 88; 5-tier $ 188; 7-tier $ 288; and 9-tier $ 388.


Morsels
25 Dempsey Road #01-04 Singapore 249670
T: +65 6266 3822
T-Th 12pm-3pm, 6pm-10.30pm, F & Sat 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm, Sun 10.30am-3pm
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16266056_1323889984323604_7630702532601882917_nThe 4 year-old Morsels has shifted to Dempsey. Chef Petrina Loh serves small plates, highlighted by Asian accents.


Numazu Uogashizushi
100 Tras Street, 100am #03-K1, Singapore 079027
T: +65 6444 0868
11am-3pm, 5.30m-10pm
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15202775_1176109342471197_3765653190972678779_nHousing 5 restaurants, Itadakimasu by PARCO is another Japanese food enclave like Japan Food Town and Emporium Shokuhin.  What is special about Numazu Uogashizushi among the 5 restaurants is that it is established in 1979, and it is one of the few sushi restaurants to have limited auction rights at Numazu Fish Market in Shizuoka Prefecture.


Okinawa Dining
07 River Valley Road, #01-57 UE Square, Singapore 238275
T: +65 6735 2212
Sun-Th 6pm-11.45pm, F & Sat 6pm-1am
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15800098_214605718999649_8698971701991326617_oTaking over the space of En Dining, Okinawa Dining is by the same people behind Tsukada Nojo and Yonpachi Gyojo.


One Night Only
397 River Valley Road Singapore
T: +65 6235 1248
T-F 12pm-1pm, Weekends 9am-10pm
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15977144_166168913784219_5173762008908288219_nTaking over the space of Tony Pizza, the people behind Muchachos and The Daily Cut have opened a diner serving American favorites such as catfishchicken-fried steak ($ 27), Nashville hot chicken ($ 21), and buttermilk fried chicken ($ 19.50). If you can’t find the shop, look for the neon signage that says “Applause.”


Ramen Atelier
2 Science Park Drive, #01-34 Ascent, Singapore 118222
T: +65 9008 3614
M-F 12pm-3pm, closed weekends
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15732008_1628834620753407_8633424105288168094_oTrained in French cuisine, Chef-owner Andrew Ng uses French culinary techniques for ramen.


Sea Tripod Seafood Paradise
331 New Bridge Road, #01-02 Dorsett Residence, Singapore 088764
T: +65 6444 9266
11am-11pm
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15940568_237081063398308_4906930732688234010_nSeafood Tripod is a Chinese fine-dining restaurant, specializing in steamed seafood. The seafood is steamed in front of you, and you can put porridge below the steamer, so the porridge collects the essence of the seafood. There are sets which go for $ 58 (2 pax) to $ 588 (8 pax). Recommended: Australian jade tiger abalone ($ 18) and Scotland bamboo clam ($ 10).


Seven7h Cucina
275 Thomson Road, #01-02 Novena Regency, Singapore 307690
T: +65 6493 2134
11am-4pm, 5pm-10.30pm
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15036575_1804935493112288_860027521556550328_nThe halalcertified Italian restaurant is managed by chef-owner Firdauz Nasir who was formerly the Executive Chef of the Arteastiq group of restaurants. Their signatures include Creation Pizza Burg (angus beef patty encrusted with pizza dough and served with truffle fries), fermented tapioca, bresaola beef cured in-house, and leg of lamb.


CAFES


Big Fish Small Fish
10 Tebing Lane, Punggol East Park, Singapore 828836

img_1492Big Fish Small Fish is in one of the seven cargo containers in Punggol. It serves fish and chips with a choice of dip: tartar sauce, or mozzarella cheese dip, or homemade XO mayo. You can choose the type of fish you want, from the cheapest dory ($ 6.90) to the most expensive, fresh red snapper ($ 15.90). Full review.


House of AnLi
163 Tanglin Road, #03-17 Tanglin Mall, Singapore 247933
T: +65 6235 3851
9am-9pm
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16143859_1403358873050270_8442298244844511029_oHouse of Anli is an interior home decor furniture shop which has opened a cafe-bistro recently. They use fresh produce, including New Zealand organic eggs.


Leung Kee Healthy Dessert
10 Tebing Lane, Punggol East Park, Singapore 828836

img_1477One of the seven new cargo containers at Punggol East Park, Leung Kee serves Chinese desserts.


Salt & Delight
9 Yio Chu Kang Road #01-02 Singapore 545523
T: +65 6909 0140
T-F 11am-7pm, Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 2pm-6pm
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14114909_1590394057928939_2988460639719847742_oSalt & Delight is a hole-in-the-wall cake boutique cafe with limited seating; more a takeaway shop than a cafe. They specialize in entremets, cakes with many layers of mousse and sponge. 2 Degrees North Coffee Co supplies their caffeine.


Seoul Good
10 Tebing Lane, Punggol East Park, Singapore 828836
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15994358_1837290533219617_3766892996834119454_oSeoul Good is situated in one of the seven cargo containers in Punggol. It serves bingsu, coffee, and Korean fried chicken.


Tachihara Coffee
9 Raffles Boulevard, # 01-97 / 98 Millenia Walk, Millenia Walk, 039596
T: +65 6337 3575
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Pullman Bakery (previously known as Tachihara Bakery) first started in Hokkaido in 1978. There are 3 outlets in Japan and 1 in Singapore. Now, just beside Pullman Bakery, they opened a cafe called Tachihara Coffee.


BARS


Boost @ Banks
10 Tebing Lane, Punggol East Park, Singapore 828836

One of the seven new cargo containers at Punggol East Park, Boost@Banks is a bar.


L’Chiam Bistro
10 Tebing Lane, Punggol East Park, Singapore 828836

Currently, L’Chiam Bistro serves only drinks, but it intends to serve homecooked Peranakan food by one of the partners’ mother, and once it’s sold out for the day, it’s out. L’Chiam Bistro is housed in one of the shipping containers in Punggol.


Native
52A Amoy Street Singapore 069878
T: +65 8869 6520
6pm-12am, closed Sun
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15621783_933625793404306_3993080591793780873_nFounded by Vijay Mudaliar (formerly of Operation Dagger), Native is thus named because the cocktails use regional and exotic ingredients such as turmeric, tapioca, fish eggs, and ants.


Pixy Bar and Cuisine
16 Mohamed Sultan Road #01-01 Singapore 238965
T: +65 9171 7682
6pm-12pm, closed Sun
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Pump Station 1965
10 Tebing Lane, Punggol East Park, Singapore 828836
T: +65 9459 7703
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img_1475One of the seven new cargo containers at Punggol East Park, Pump Station 1965 is a bar that serves finger food and mains like beef pasta ($ 14.90), beef stew ($ 14.90), and dong po pork belly ($ 12.90, with rice $ 14.90).


WTF Coffee House & Bar
11 Penang Lane, Innotel Hotel, Singapore 238485
T: +65 6545 4818
7am-12pm
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16195926_365440117165378_724566226225393410_nA coffee house by day, a sports bar screening English Premier League by night, WTF serves pastas, sandwiches, pizzas, and an affordable barachirashi don at $ 15.90++.


HAWKERS


BAP Korean Food
321 Alexandra Road, Alexandra Central Mall #01-01, Singapore 169971
11.30am-9pm
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Although this is a comfortable restaurant setting, it’s self-service Korean chap chye png. You get to choose 3 side dishes with rice from $ 9.50 to $ 15.


Burger Buddies
1 Cantonment Road, Essen at the Pinnacle #01-01, Singapore 080001
T: +65 6727 6066
11am-9.30pm
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15894285_239583396467848_8105449955311057301_nA stall in a food court, Burger Buddies uses freshly ground meat for the patties. They have unique burgers like lamb burger and duck burger with orange wedges. 


Coffee Break @ Savourworld, Ascent
2 Science Park Drive, Ascent #01-28, Singapore 118222
T: +65 8100 6218
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16002789_1680440115303126_549411455933835793_nThe coffee stall at Amoy Street Food Centre has opened an offshoot at Ascent which has limited seating in a kopitiam setting. They are known for their kaya and butter toast with coffee but they have come up with creative drinks like butter pecan latte ($ 3.80).


Enaq the Prata Shop
Blk 21 21 Ghim Moh Road Singapore 270021
7am-11pm
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The popular Jurong prata shop has opened an outlet at Ghim Moh; it is a restaurant setting. This is their central kitchen where they make their own dough and deliver it to the Jurong outlet.


Goruden Singapore
31 Lower Kent Ridge Road, NUS Yusof Ishak House, Central Square Level 2, Singapore 119078
M-F 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-3pm
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15894753_1844771439099467_2424430724432745650_nA stall in a school canteen, Goruden offers quite a range from wraps and salads to basmati rice and pasta. Their signatures are their burgers, which have fillings like pulled pork, crispy pork and grilled chicken.


Le Bouillon
24 Raffles Place #B1-01/10 Clifford Centre, Stall 13 @ Food Emporium, Singapore 048621
M-F 8am-7pm, Sat 8am-3pm
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Operating as a stall in a food court, Le Bouillon serves affordable French food with many items below $ 10.


The Wanton Mee Co. by 88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist
153 Tyrwhitt Road Singapore 207566
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88 Hong Kong Roast Meat is known to serve one of the best sio bak in Singapore. They now have a new stall beside it: The Wanton Mee Co, which dishes out, well, wanton mee.


You may be interested in…
New Openings in Jan 2017: 24 Restaurants, 15 Cafes, 5 Takeaway Shops, 3 Bars, and 4 Hawkers


Written by

PHOTO CREDIT: Photos of Burger Buddies, Coffee Break, eGrill, Goruden, Half Pound, House of AnLi, K-Tower, Morsels, Native, Numazu Uogashizushi, Okinawa, One Night Only, Ramen Atelier, Salt & Delight, Sea Tripod, Seoul Good, Seven7h, WTF are taken from their facebook pages. Photo of D’Grill is taken by Ishabel Low. Photo of Hot Buns is taken from their website. Photo of Don Meijin is provided by them.

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Hawkers Are Heroes. Praise Them as We Should.

tigerbeer-charkwayteowHawkers are heroes because they define our national identity, they create our heritage and culture, and they make us miss Singapore. Whenever I go overseas for a long time, and return to Singapore, the first dish that I eat upon touchdown is always, always bak chor mee—never any fine-dining restaurants—because you can’t find BCM anywhere else in the world.

It is well known that hawkers work very hard. Some of them open at 6a.m. Most of them remain open on weekends and public holidays while we sleep in and conveniently take a walk to the nearest coffeeshop to eat brunch. We often sing praises of diligent people. So why aren’t we singing praises of our hardworking hawkers?

Furthermore, our hawkers have put Singapore on the map for being the first to receive a Michelin star for street food. They work hard to provide us with affordable and tasty food, without expecting anything in return.

tigerbeer-chickenriceIn April, Tiger Beer launched its Street Food Movement that showcases three of our very own hawkers in three short films. Now into the second phase of the movement, Tiger Beer is back with two new films that bring to life the heartfelt stories of our unsung heroes, reminding us to show appreciation not just to our beloved local street food, but also to the ones behind them – our hawkers.

In the first film, Mdm Wong Li Er is not merely a hawker selling food to earn a living; she’s also giving out free food to the needy that live around the Pek Kio area where her stall Cambridge Rd. Hong Kong Roast Pork is located. She says, “I don’t have many skills, so I use food to give back to society and the needy. It’s the best I can do. When I see smiles on their faces, it brings me so much happiness.” This is what a hero is.

tigerbeer-claypotriceBeing a hawker is not a glamorous occupation, they work ceaselessly, and tirelessly, and yet few people have shown appreciation for their craft and effort into sustaining and keeping our local street food heritage vibrant.

It takes a hero to recognize another hero. Tiger Beer’s Street Food Movement now urges us to show our gratitude to these unsung heroes. Post a photo of your favourite street food or hawker with your “thank you” messages on Facebook or Instagram, using the hashtag #uncagestreetfood. For all that our hawkers do, it’s time to say thank you.

tiger-beer-popiahApart from expressing your appreciation through “thank you” messages on social media, you can also be a hero by having a Tiger Beer to accompany your favourite street food! Or have it as part of your snacking routine with the limited edition Nasi Lemak Sambal Flavoured Nuts – a collaboration between homegrown brands Camel Nuts and Tiger Beer.

camel-nasi-lemak-sambal-flavoured-nutsThe savoury nibbles come with every purchase of two 500ml cans of Tiger Beer at select convenience stores, while stocks last.

For more information on Tiger Beer’s street food movement, please log on to Tiger Beer Singapore’s website and Facebook page.

Written by Photo credit to Tiger Beer.

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Cuttlefish-Kangkong

Ho Guan Satay Bee Hoon: Pioneer Generation Hawkers!

Cuttlefish Kangkong

Satay Beehoon and cuttlefish kangkong belong to that category of hawker food which may be best described as “niche”.  Some hawker dishes like chicken rice, roti prata and carrot cake are so much a part of the Singaporean identity that one really cannot be considered a true blue Singaporean if you have tried these dishes in your life. (Ok lah, vegans excepted) But I am very sure that there will be some readers here who have never eaten Satay Beehoon before, right?

Satay Beehoon

The origins of Satay Beehoon are rather sketchy.  All we know is that it is a Teochew dish and it has been around for a while.  We do know of satay beehoon stalls which can trace their history back to the 50’s, but no one seems to have any idea of how it came to be.

It probably wasn’t brought to Singapore by migrants from Chaoshan.  (That part of China where we Teochews came from) In fact, the opposite is true.  According to Wikipedia, migrants from Nanyang (South East Asia) actually brought back the idea of satay sauce which became what is now known as 沙茶醬 shāchá jiàng.  However, the Chinese version of the sauce doesn’t contain peanuts but has dried shrimps instead.  I think they must have confused satay sauce with hae bee hiam, because the list of ingredients for 沙茶醬 bears closer resemblance to hae bee hiam which is a condiment made from fried shallots, garlic, chilli and dried shrimp.

So how did Satay Beehoon come to be?  Who is this mysterious Teochew man who came up with the idea of pouring satay sauce over beehoon, cockles and cuttlefish?  Why is this Teochew Ah Hia (Teochew man) even using satay sauce when satay is traditionally associated with the Hainanese?

Hawkers

Here is my theory.  I think that Satay Bee Hoon probably evolved from cuttlefish kangkong.  The two dishes are quite similar and uses some common ingredients.  Perhaps there was a certain Teochew hawker selling cuttlefish kangkong who was located next to a Hainanese Satay Man and along came a customer who ordered both dishes and started to pour the satay sauce over his cuttlefish kangkong which slowly started a trend?  It’s only my own theory, but it sounds quite plausible doesn’t it?

Anyway, I was alerted to this dear old couple who is selling satay beehoon at Changi Village Food Centre.  My friend, who is a satay beehoon connoisseur, tells me that he has been going round Singapore tasting at all the satay beehoon stall until he finally found that old school flavour at this stall.

The couple has selling food at Changi Village since the food centre opened over 40 years ago.  They had been selling economic rice for over thirty years but recently changed to Satay Beehoon as it was less labour intensive.  The secret to their satay sauce is freshly ground spices and peanuts which they spend hours cooking over a slow fire.  Their satay sauce is less sweet than other places and is pretty potent, although my personal preference is for it to be a tad sweeter.  4.25/5

Stall

Conclusion

Old school satay bee hoon prepared by a Pioneer Generation couple!  If you are a fan of satay beehoon, it behooves you to make a pilgrimage to Changi Village to see if this will trigger a flashback to the 50’s!

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Hokkien-Mee

Hong Heng Fried Sotong Mee: Michelin Guide Hawkers!

Hokkien Mee

The Michelin Guide has put Singapore’s hawker food on the world gastronomy map with the announcement of 2 One Michelin Star Hawkers this week, viz Hillstreet Tai Hwa Bak Chor Mee and Hong Kong Soy Sauce Chicken.  Now we can boast that Singapore is the cheapest place in the world where you can eat at a Michelin Star establishment!  Two dollars!  Yes $ 2 is all you need to eat a Michelin Star meal!

When I published “The End of Char Kway Teow” in 2010, my intention was to “glamorise” hawker food so we Singaporeans might realise the uniqueness of our own cuisine and not take it for granted. Having spoken to so many hawkers, I realised back then, that most of our hawkers are due to retire with not enough young hawkers wanting to take over the wok.  Most young aspiring chefs want to cook French cuisine and eschew local food which is often seen as “low class”.  Thus, “The End of Char Kway Teow” was meant to sound the alarm that unless we do something soon, there might not be a Char Kway Teow worth eating in the future!

Now that our hawker food has officially been anointed by the Michelin inspectors are food worthy to be placed alongside the best cuisines in the world, I am hoping that it will motivate more young Singaporeans who are planning to go into the food trade to cook Singapore food rather than some foreign cuisine.

Young aspiring chefs now have a role model in Malcolm Lee of Candlenut who, at 32, has managed to earn himself a Michelin Star and put Peranakan cuisine on the world stage.  Like most young chefs, he had dreams of becoming a Western chef, but his passion for his own heritage,  inspired by his mother and grandmother, pushed him to discover his roots. To me, the message is very clear — if you are a Singaporean cooking Singapore food, you will stand a better chance of winning a Michelin Star then if you try to compete with all the other French Chefs of the world!

Interview with our two Michelin Star Hawkers right after the announcement of the awards.  Congrats to Mr Tang Chay Seng, 70 of Hillstreet Tai Hwa Bak Chor Mee, and Mr Chan of Hong Kong Soy Sauce Chicken.

Earlier, the announcement of the “Bib Gourmand” awardees caught many by surprise, not least Manfred Lim, the man behind the wok at Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee.  The Bib Gourmand is usually regarded as those stalls which are just shy of winning a Michelin Star but are still providing really good food for less than $ 45.

The social media was abuzz with Singaporeans expressing their disagreement with some of the awardees.  This is not unexpected as we Singaporeans are really passionate about our food,  and when we know that there are stalls that are far better than what the inspectors picked, we just need to “let go” some steam!  After all, what do these foreign inspectors know about hawker food anyway?

I have quite a different take on this.  I don’t see the list of 2 Michelin Star and 17 Bib Gourmand hawkers as a comprehensive list of all the best hawker food in Singapore.  After all, I have been doing reviews for a decade already and I have yet to cover all the best hawkers myself!  Bear in mind that there are 6500 hawkers in the NEA run hawker centres and another 10,000 stalls in coffeeshops, cafeterias and food courts.  So 19 is just a mere 0.1% of all the hawkers and I am quite sure the inspectors don’t have the resources to try them all.

Of course, I don’t expect that the inspectors will know as much about local food as we do but what they have is the vast experience of eating from some of the best restaurants from all over the world.  So, when they assess our hawker dishes, they are grading it according to the best foods that they have eaten in Japan, Europe and the US.  That,  to me, is HUGE!  Because it says to me that our hawkers are able to cook up a dish that is comparable with the best in the world and if some of the ones they picked are what we regard as just average, then wait till they get round to the other gems!  We should be looking forward to more Michelin star hawkers in next year’s edition!

The inclusion of Hong Heng Fried Sotong Mee in the Bib Gourmand list came as quite a surprise to a lot of people.  Not least to myself who have written extensively about the dish.  I thought that I had every famous Hokkien Mee covered already, but instead of picking the really famous ones like Geylang Lor 29 Hokkien Mee Nam Sing Hokkien Mee, or any of the five most famous hokkien mee stalls, they picked one that has escaped my foodie radar for the last ten years!

It turns out that Hong Heng has been around for as long as Tiong Bahru market and food centre has existed and has its fair share of fans.  Manfred is a third generation hawker who took over from his mum who in turned took over from another relative.  He is an unassuming man in his early forties who was himself surprised to have been won the award!

I felt that the fried Hokkien Mee was well fried and it has all the elements of a good Hokkien Mee, viz, the noodles have been given adequate frying time such that they are nicely charred before the stock is added and they still include some slices of pork belly to the dish.  However, I have to admit that like most Singaporeans, I felt that there are other Hokkien Mee stalls which are more worthy of the award.  That is not to say that they don’t deserve it.  I am very happy that Manfred’s dedication to his craft is finally gaining recognition.  All I am saying is that, if Hong Heng can get a Bib Gourmand Award, then we should be seeing more Hokkien Mee stalls in next year’s edition of the Michelin Guide! 4/5

Conclusion

Many people have been expressing their concerns about long queues, lowering of standards and increased prices of the award winners.  I too have these concerns.  However, do spare a thought for the hawkers who have laboured so long to provide cheap and good food for us.  Let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture and ask not how the Michelin Guide will affect you,  but ask how it will benefit the hawkers, the chefs and Singapore as a whole. We have the ambition to become the culinary centre of Asia and this is a significant milestone along the path to that goal. Let’s consider how the Michelin Stars might play a part in preserving our hawker heritage in the long term rather than how it will affect our own pockets and conveniences in the short term.  This is our hawkers’ finest hour, let’s not rob them of their well deserved honour!

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