Hawker Heritage – The Next Chapter with Singapore’s Young Hawkers @ The Line, Shangri-La Hotel

Recently, on the invitation of Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, a few of us foodies took a bus around Singapore, visiting a few of Singapore’s very promising Young Hawkers. We visited them as their stall / shops, where they usually slog from as early as 3 am to prepare delicious food for customers that will visit them when the sun rises.

It was an interesting adventure because some of them are really young. One of them, whose nickname is XiaoDi, is only 23 years of age! What were you doing at 23 years old? I know I wasn’t as ambitious as this 23 year old when I was 23. 

We know there are many young Singapore hawkers around. Based on their popularity from their research, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore will be inviting them to stage a unique promotion called: “Hawker Heritage – The Next Chapter” at The Line on two nights only, 21 and 28 September 2013.

Nine young hawkers from 6 eateries will present local hawker dishes at The Line, this is in addition to the restaurant’s famous 16 Theatre Kitchens. So, the usual seafood, fresh oysters, sashimi will be there, plus all the local hawker delicacies that I will show you later. It will feast with the usual line up from The Line, plus a visit to the 6 eateries by just walking around the buffet stations.

Price: $78 per adult and $36 per child.
Time: Buffet Dinner starts from 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm.
Dates: Only for 21 and 28 September 2013.

Meet the author of “Not For Sale”

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

During our bus trip, we managed to listen to Mr Sinma Da Show talk about his book. We also met Ms Jernnine Pang and Mr Jimmy Yong. Sinma and Jernnine are both children of hawkers and founder of local cooking school California Sushi Academy. Jimmy is the photographer for the book.

The trio has published a book called “Not for Sale, Singapore’s Remaining Street Food Vendors”. I bought this book a few weeks ago online and was also a reason I joined the ‘makan’ trip, so I can see who the authors are in person.

Singapore's Remaining Street Food Vendors

The book has photos of many popular hawkers that you would probably know. I saw quite a few familiar faces inside. It’s a compilation of stories and photos from more than 300 old hawkers from 105 hawker centres in Singapore. Sinma was telling us they were practically went to every single hawker centre in Singapore and it took them around 3 years to visit them all!

He said that he himself is a hopeless romantic and when people tell him stories, he will just melt away and that’s why he documents these stories. There are many out there who loves to hear stories too, which is why I bought the book!

I am sure he will tell you all more when you meet him in person. He had many stories to tell you too if you would like to listen. If you visit The Line, you would be able to buy the book and also get the authors to autograph it! There will be a photo exhibition too of selected photos from the book.

Education Journey of Singapore’s Hawker History

Every wondered who was in charge of the establishment of hawker centres in Singapore? On 21 and 28 September, from 6 to 6:30 pm, the public is invited to join in the session by Mr Daniel Wang, Singapore’s former Commissioner of Public Health/Director-General of Public Health. He will bring you on an educational journey of the Singapore’s hawker history.

Hawker Visit 1: Habib’s Rojak

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

Address: Blk 503, West Coast Drive, Ayer Rajah Food Centre, Stall 68.
Hours: 11 am to 10 pm daily (closed on alternate Mondays)

Habib’s Rojak is helmed by Mr Habib Mohamed. He’s 25 years old and only child that followed his father’s foot steps to be a Indian Rojak Specialist. His siblings are probably his tasters.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next ChapterShangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

Habib told us that he’s at his stall at 3 am daily and he’ll start to make the rojak sauce. He also prepares all the ingredients that you see in the photos above! Lots of work eh?

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

With such a happy disposition, you feel quite comfortable buying from him.
Certainly not some food nazi. We asked if he’s the youngest hawker in this centre, he said no, but he’s the youngest hawker selling rojak there.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

People usually pick what they want to eat from the mountain of food. We asked if someone is lost, is there any way we can order? He says you can just tell him, 1 or 2 person’s portion, and he can mix and match for you.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

When asked about his specialty, he says one of the specialty is the Vadai (as you can see above) in his rojak. Come to think it, we seldom see Vadai in Indian Rojak right? He also fried dough that has dessicated coconut in it. Taste rather nice for those who loves coconut.

Hawker Visit 2: Kway Guan Huat Popiah and Kueh Pie Tee
Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

Address: 96 Joo Chiat Road,
Hours: 7.30 am to 1.30 pm daily (closed on Mondays)
Tel: 6344 2875 (to order Popiah Skin and Kueh Pie Tee cups)

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

This is a family business that has been around since 1938! This is Ms Zita Quek, the lady who greeted us as we visited the shop. She and her 4 other siblings now takes over the shop. They are the second-generation of family business. She and the ladies in the family business are experts in making condiments and fillings for Popiah and Kueh Pie Tee.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next ChapterShangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

The guys in the family, are the skilful ones in the art of popiah skin making.
This is 37 year old Michael Ker, Zita’s nephew and is a Pharmacist. He helps out on weekends and has been making popiah skin for 20 years.

All of us did notice he’s very fit, with muscular arms and legs. A lady asked him, does he work out? He said, it’s the popiah. Eating and making popiah makes you healthy and strong!

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

The pans they use to make the popiah are ancient and they have converted the original charcoal stoves into electric ones now.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

What is better than having freshly made popiah wrapped using fresh made popiah skin.
There’s really a difference!

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next ChapterShangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

On weekends, there’s always a long queue at the shop, waiting to buy the freshly wrapped popiah.
You should try this out and see if  it’s your kind of popiah. It’s quite delicious I must say.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

The man make the skin, and the ladies make the fillings, that seems to be the way they work here. It works quite well too.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

Here’s a popiah to tempt you!

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

When I asked Zita if they make the Pie Tee cups by hand, she says yes. I know some people hold 2 or 3 at a time to make it, I asked if they do the same, she said, they make it one by one, so that every shell is nicely shaped and fried nicely.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

The irresistible Kueh Pie Tee! You can order the skin and pie tee cups from them. They also sell the condiments and fillings. Everything you need to have your own popiah party at home!

Hawker Visit 3: Ru Ji Kitchen

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

Address: Blk 51, #01-37 Old Airport Road Food Centre
Hours: 7.30 am – 1.30 pm daily (closed on Mondays)

Ruji Kitchen is a specialist in handmade fish ball noodles and giant fish cakes. When they moved to Old Airport Road Food Centre in May 2012, Mr Daniel Lee and Ms Joanne Ng (both 31 years old) took over the business. 

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next ChapterShangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

Mr Ng Hock Loo, the person with the cute doggy apron set up this popular stall in Holland Drive 10 years ago. Using his secret recipe and under his supervision, his daughter and son-in-law took around two months to master Mr Ng’s skills.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

Yup, they participated in Singapore Day 2012 in New York City!
Are you one of those that managed to sample his noodles all the way in New York?

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

The handmade fish ball and giant fish cakes that long queue of customers queue up for daily.
It takes some great skill to make all these from scratch!

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

The noodles has been mixed with their signature homemade chilli sauce. If you order you will notice that they will mix and stir your noodles very thoroughly before serving it to you. Everything is nicely mixed so that when you get to your table, the flavour has all set into the noodles and ready for you to eat.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

The handsome and pretty couple. By the way, both of them have degrees in biomedical sciences!

Hawker Visit 4: Toast Hut

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

Address: Blk 51, #01-52 Old Airport Road Food Centre
Hours: 6.30 am – 3 pm daily (Closed on Thursdays)

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

This is Melvin Soh who is 29 years old. He opened his coffee and kaya toast stall when he was only 23 years old. He picked up his skills at a local kaya toast chain when he was only 17 years old. A hardworking boy, he was learning how to make great kaya while he was still studying at ITE.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

His stall attracts a super long queue every morning.
Are you one of those living in the area that gets your kaya toast from him?

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

Melvin learned to make home-brewed traditional coffee from his father.
He serves blended ice coffee too for his young customers. He sells their specially roasted coffee powder too if you are like their coffee. Great gifts for relatives and friends who miss local coffee!

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

The proof is in the eating. His kaya is specially made to be less sweet and not to cloying which customers seems to approve by the long queue. Melvin will be at The Line’s alfresco area for demonstration only on 28 September.

The Line itself will make things more nostalgic that night by serving Milo Dinosaur, Teh Tarik, Kopi Tarik, Bandung and Grass Jelly with Soya Bean Milk in glass mugs or takeaway clear plastic bags.

Hawker Visit 5: Xiao Di Fried Prawn Noodles

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

Address: Blk 153, Serangoon North Avenue 1, Guan Hock Tiong Eating House
Hours: 11 am – 8 pm daily (closed on Mondays)

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

The youngest of all the hawkers in this promotion, this is Terence Chee. He’s only 23 years old. Although only 23 years old, he already has 8 years of experience in preparing various types of dishes from different hawkers.

After 4 years of perfecting his skills at various well-known fried prawn noodles stalls, Terence finally set up his own stall in May 2012. He said when you are willing to learn and be humble, the various Master Hawkers around are all willing to teach.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

A small tasting portion size of his Fried Prawn Noodles. It’s really quite good. Guess what? It will get better daily!

When we were talking to him, he said he’s trying to improve everyday. When each ingredients is to be put in, and how much and even to the selection of his ingredients.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

I love the consistency of the gravy. His sambal chilli is particularly potent. It’s the kind that slowly creeps up on you. All the ingredients that you expect are there: bean sprouts, eggs, squids, prawns, pork belly strips, pork lard and chives.

You should pay a visit to support this young hawker and taste his food at least once.

Hawker Visit 6: Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

Address: 26 Sin Ming Lane, #01-114/117 Midview City
Hours: 7 am – 9 pm daily

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

This is Mr Lionel Lim, 39 years old and the second-generation owner of Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh. After graduating in a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Australia, he worked in the corporate world for 10 years before joining the family business full time.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

The Loin Rib (long gu in Mandarin) that his shop is famous for. Lionel told his the Loin Rib Bak Kut Teh is their signature dish. When everyone added soya sauce in their Bak Kut Teh long ago, they decided not to add soya sauce to the broth. They said the soy sauce will over power the natural taste of the pork ribs, pepper and garlic.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

Lionel said that Loin Ribs are tougher portions of meat. If you like more tender ribs, order the usual ribs instead. The soup was indeed quite peppery and good and the meat was nice. Well, everyone on the table used their hands, but it was tender enough for me to just use my chopsticks to eat my pork ribs.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next ChapterShangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

Lionel was saying that they are slowly changing their supply of pork to use only Natural Pork. If you click on the photos above, you can read more about it. It’s supposed to be healthier for us.

Shangri-la Singapore: Hawker Heritage - The Next Chapter

Oh, the lovely you tiao that goes with bak kut teh.
If you want to view the photo of the big billboard in his shop about the history of Bak Kut Teh, you can go to my Flickr account to see it.

End Notes:

It was really a very interesting trip that we had. It was also nice to be able to chat with our young hawkers. You can visit these hawkers individually at their stall or shops and tell them that you are proud of them or you can meet them all at the same time in you know where now.

Only for 2 nights, enjoy Hawker Heritage – The Next Chapter with Singapore’s Young Hawkers at The Line, Shangri-La Hotel.

Dates: Only for 21 and 28 September 2013.

Time: Buffet Dinner starts from 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm.
Price: $78 per adult and $36 per child.

The Line, Shangri-La Hotel
22 Orange Grove Road
Singapore 258350

For reservations:
Tel: +65 6213 4398
Email: dining.sls@shangri-la.com
Book online at: http://www.shangri-la.com/singapore/shangrila/dining/



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *