Bib Gourmand hawker stalls experience a spike in business as listing draws new customers

People queue up at the Hoo Kee Rice Dumplings stall at Amoy Street Food Centre, on July 15, 2016.
People queue up at the Hoo Kee Rice Dumplings stall at Amoy Street Food Centre, on July 15, 2016.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

SINGAPORE - Bib Gourmand hawker stalls in the city drew long queues on Friday (July 15). Those in the suburbs also saw better business but there were no long waits.

The list of 34 eateries with that rating was released on Thursday, one week ahead of the launch of the inaugural Michelin Guide for Singapore, and recognises establishments offering high-quality meals for less than $45 a person.

All four stalls at Amoy Street Food Centre - A Noodle Story, Famous Crispy Curry Puff, Hong Kee Beef Noodle and Hoo Kee Rice Dumpling - had better business.

The longest queue was at A Noodle Story, which at one point stretched to 35 people. Customers had to wait 45 minutes to get their food.

 

By 12.45pm, Hoo Kee Rice Dumpling, which normally closes at 3pm, had sold all of its 400 rice dumplings and closed.

Ten minutes later, the food at Hong Kee Beef Noodle, which usually opens until 7pm, also sold out, and at least six customers had to be turned away.

Its owner, Mr Tony Tan Tan Tong, 58, said: "In my four years as the owner, today's business is the best. I'm happy so many people came, but I am also very tired. At this rate, I will just do my best."

By 1pm, Famous Crispy Curry Puff had sold 400 puffs - 150 more than usual on normal days - and the stall had to turn away customers temporarily to make more puffs.

Ms Kris Goh, 39, an assistant at the stall, said: "We've never seen business like this before in our nine years. At about 9am, 10 people were queueing, which has never happened before."

Many customers were first-timers who heard the news and wanted to try food from the award-winning stalls.

IT manager Roxan Arcangeles, 48, and her husband drove from their home in Simei to Amoy Street Food Centre because they wanted to try food from all four stalls in one trip.

The Singaporean, who was in the queue for beef noodles, said: "I also want to eat the curry puff, the rice dumpling, even the ramen if I can."

One person in the queue was Mr Lawrence Lau, 25, a tourist from Canada who saw the Bib Gourmand list on Thursday.

He said: "The guide is quite renowned and is a time-efficient way of identifying good food in a foreign country. I am sure more tourists will come now."

Stalls outside the city area also had better business, but not by much.

Liang Zhao Ji Duck Rice in Whampoa sold out an hour earlier, at 2pm.

But some regular customers were irritated with the longer queue.

Retiree Lim Teo Teck, 70, who has been patronising Hong Kee Beef Noodle for years, said: "Actually, it's not good that they won the award. I normally only have to queue for 10 minutes. But today, I have already queued for 30 minutes.

"I hope the hype dies down in a few days and everything returns to normal."