Armenian Street Char Kway Teow hawker offers to teach apprentices, for a fee

Mr Tan Boon Teck, second generation owner of Armenian Street Char Kway Teow, intends to sell his recipe or teach others how to cook char kway teow as he has contracted stage 3 cancer.
Mr Tan Boon Teck, second generation owner of Armenian Street Char Kway Teow, intends to sell his recipe or teach others how to cook char kway teow as he has contracted stage 3 cancer. PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - If you have been a fan of Armenian Street Char Kway Teow, you can learn how to cook it from one of the sons of the original hawker, the late Mr Tan Chong Chia, who was affectionately known as Lao Chen.

His son, Mr Tan Boon Teck, 49, who runs the Block 24 Sin Ming Road stall owned by his eldest brother, Mr Tan Boon Kiat, 60, is ready to teach anyone who is willing to pay a negotiable starting price of $10,000 for the privilege.

He says that it will take about a month to learn the proper wok-frying techniques from him.

There is a catch.

Mr Tan Boon Teck says he will be supplying the secret sauces and ingredients, so apprentices who start their own stalls will not know the family's secret recipe for the fried rice noodle dish.

He hopes the person he teaches will open another stall under the family brand's name. Apprentices who are interested can discuss the cost and further terms and conditions with him and his brother.

He says he wants to impart his skills to someone because he was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in May and hopes his offer will raise some money for his cancer treatment.

Mr Tan Boon Teck learnt how to fry kway teow from his elder brother Mr Tan Boon Kiat, the current owner of Armenian Street Char Kway Teow. 

Their father opened the first fried kway teow stall at the corner of Armenian and Loke Yew streets in 1949.

It became very popular for its si hum kway teow (fried kway teow with cockles), but dropped off the radar after being forced to close in 2001, when the coffee shop the stall was housed in was demolished to make way for urban redevelopment.

In 2011 the eldest of the four brothers, Mr Tan Boon Kiat, reopened Armenian Street Char Kway Teow at Block 303 Anchorvale Link in Sengkang, selling fried kway teow using his father's recipe.

The Tan family then opened one more stall in Tampines Round Market & Food Centre in 2013 and one more in Sin Ming Road in 2014.

The Sin Ming Road branch, which Mr Tan Boon Teck managed, is now closed due to his medical condition.

Interested apprentices should call Ms Cindy Tan, daughter of Mr Tan Boon Kiat, on 9851-3725 for more information.

liansj@sph.com.sg

Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity. We are sorry for the errors.