Eateries rally to help cancer-stricken hawker

The Fishball Story’s Douglas Ng
The Fishball Story’s Douglas NgPHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES, MARCUS TAN

The Fishball Story's Douglas Ng leads the way in raising funds for the cancer treatment of Armenian Street Char Kway Teow hawker Tan Boon Teck

After hearing of the plight of Armenian Street Char Kway Teow hawker Tan Boon Teck, 49, who has stage three colon cancer, fellow hawker Douglas Ng of The Fishball Story at Timbre+ rallied the troops to help him - even though they do not know each other.

Two weeks ago, The Straits Times had reported on Mr Tan's condition and that he is looking to impart his char kway teow frying skills to an apprentice for at least $10,000, in the hopes that the person will open a stall under the same brand name.

So far, he has not received any offers.

To help him, Mr Ng, 26, is using Open Stoves - an event which is part of the annual Singapore Food Festival - as a platform to raise funds for Mr Tan's cancer treatment. It runs from Friday to Sunday at hip hawker centre Timbre+ at one-north.

In its second edition this year, Open Stoves pairs nine hawkers with restaurant chefs to sell a collaborative dish. One half of each pairing - whether hawker or chef - is from a stall located at Timbre+.

Hawker-chef pairings who wish to contribute can pledge part of their sales to Mr Tan's medical fees. They can decide the amount they want to donate.

Some of the pairings who have pledged their help are The Fishball Story and casual eatery The Masses in Beach Road; and mod-Sin skewers and rice bowl eatery Kush at Timbre+ and Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap at Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre.


Tan Boon Teck PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES, MARCUS TAN

I don't know Mr Tan and I've never met him, but I wanted to do something. I understand the life of a hawker and the struggles.

THE FISHBALL STORY'S DOUGLAS NG, on helping fellow hawker Tan Boon Teck (above)

Another part of Open Stoves is Wok This Way (from 5pm), where three live wok stations will be set up at Timbre+'s outdoor courtyard.

Mr Tan's eldest brother Tan Boon Kiat, 60, who runs another outlet of Armenian Street Char Kway Teow at Block 303 Anchorvale Link in Sengkang, will take up a stall to sell its famous dish, along with Cantonese roast meat joint Char Express from Timbre+. Thai restaurant Sakon Thai in Sennett Estate, off MacPherson Road, is also participating and will pledge 70 per cent of sales to Mr Tan Boon Teck.

Both stalls do not need to pay rent and the Timbre Group, which owns Timbre+, will instead pay them $1,000 each as fees for their involvement.

Timbre will also match dollar for dollar - up to $3,000 - for sales racked up at Mr Tan Boon Kiat's stall.

Other weekend activities at the event include old-school arcade games, a water sensory play zone and face painting.

Another way to contribute to Mr Tan Boon Teck's medical fees is via crowdfunding platform Giveasia, set up by his niece Cindy Tan.

The Tan family's first fried kway teow stall opened at the corner of Armenian and Loke Yew streets in 1949 and became famous for its si hum kway teow (fried kway teow with cockles).

It closed in 2001 when the coffee shop the stall was housed in was demolished to make way for urban redevelopment. In 2011, Mr Tan Boon Kiat reopened with the Anchorvale Link outlet.

The family then opened one more stall at the Tampines Round Market and Food Centre in 2013, and another in Sin Ming Road in 2014. The Sin Ming Road branch, which Mr Tan Boon Teck managed, is now closed owing to his medical condition.

Mr Tan tells The Straits Times that he hopes to be at Open Stoves. He says in Mandarin: "I'm very grateful that people who don't know me are so willing to help."

The Fishball Story's Mr Ng says: "I don't know Mr Tan and I've never met him, but I wanted to do something. I understand the life of a hawker and the struggles. With the fund-raising added to this event (Open Stoves), it brings even more meaning and purpose to the collaborations."

• Open Stoves at Timbre+, 73A Ayer Rajah Crescent, will be held from Friday to Sunday, noon till late. To donate, go to https://give.asia/vrq. Interested apprentices can get in touch with Ms Cindy Tan at www.facebook.com/ArmenianStreetCharKwayTeow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2017, with the headline 'Eateries rally to help cancer-stricken hawker'. Print Edition | Subscribe