Credit by Ms Kelly Wong (above) will serve her beef brisket spinach noodles in Wong Kee Noodles © MARCUS TAN
A Day in the Life of a Singapore Hawker
SOCIO-CULTURE Singapore

A Day in the Life of a Singapore Hawker

After three years in the banking industry, Ms Kelly Wong decided to start learning how to make wonton noodles from her father around 2013, despite "knowing nuts" about the trade when she first started.

"I've been eating these noodles since I was young. We've got a very good product and it will be a waste if I don't learn, and take over from him," said the 27-year-old.

Her father, now 65, specialises in Cantonese dishes and has worked in the food and beverage industry since he was eight, cooking for canteen stalls and fine-dining restaurants. He also runs a small business that manufactures and supplies noodles, including spinach and tomato noodles that she also uses in her dishes.

She did not just want to supply noodles, but wanted to also be able to cook them herself.

"I wanted to understand my product, so that I would know how to deal with problems that my customers may face," said Ms Wong, who does not mind her long 13-hour work days.

Ms Wong's morning routine begins with cooking the soup at about 5.30am after opening the stall at Timbre+ in Ayer Rajah Crescent (above), slicing up the char siew and preparing other ingredients from close to 7am, and moving on to making the wonton by 7.30am. Image: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Ms Wong's morning routine begins with cooking the soup at about 5.30am after opening the stall at Timbre+ in Ayer Rajah Crescent (above), slicing up the char siew and preparing other ingredients from close to 7am, and moving on to making the wonton by 7.30am. Image: ARIFFIN JAMAR

For about four years from 2013, she ran a stall at Maxwell Food Centre, but moved to a stall at hip hawker centre Timbre+ when it opened last April, pulling in an average of about 200 customers every day.

At Timbre+, stallholders meet regularly with management about once a month to go through suggestions or air concerns that they have about the operations.

Ms Wong also appreciates the automated tray return system and help with cleaning the dishes at the hawker centre.

A challenge young hawkers like her face are tight profit margins, and the need to establish themselves against bigger brands. She relies on social media for marketing, which Timbre+ also helps with by posting information on its website and social media channels.

Ms Wong with her tasty fare. "I've been eating these noodles since I was young," she says. Image: JONATHAN CHOO
Ms Wong with her tasty fare. "I've been eating these noodles since I was young," she says. Image: JONATHAN CHOO

"People will always think that older hawkers cook better than the young, because they have years and years of experience. But if you don't give us a chance, you will never be able to taste some dishes again. Such skills are built on experience, and we have to build it up slowly."


Source : The Straits Times

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