Singapore Tourism Board and gas supplier City Gas pay tribute to hawkers

Ng Kok Hua sells handmade Hokkien ngoh hiang at China Street Fritters, a stall in Maxwell Food Centre which won a Heritage Hawker Stall award.
Ng Kok Hua sells handmade Hokkien ngoh hiang at China Street Fritters, a stall in Maxwell Food Centre which won a Heritage Hawker Stall award.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Mr Richard Ng and his three siblings took over their father's famed ngoh hiang stall and have kept it going for two decades, but it looks like the business will end with them.

Said Mr Ng, 62:"We are hoping for someone from the third-generation of the family to express an interest but none of our children, nephews and nieces in our family - more than 19 of them - are keen." Mr Ng has seven other siblings.

Ngoh hiang is a dish of pork and other ingredients rolled in bean curd skin, and fried.

Mr Ng's stall, China Street Fritters, which he operates with his siblings, was among seven hawkers featured in the Hawker Spotlight on Sunday (July 16). The event was organised by gas supplier City Gas and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), as part of this year's Singapore Food Festival.

The stall also sells pork liver rolls, liver sausage or guang chiang, among other things.

Singapore's famed hawker food operators are bracing themselves for a tough future - manpower constraints and a lack of successors to take over from them are their among biggest challenges.

Ms Ranita Sundramoorthy, director of attractions, dining and retail at STB, said: "Hawkers are an integral and unmistakable part of Singapore's multi-faceted food landscape, so it is fitting to shine the spotlight on them at the Singapore Food Festival, the only event here dedicated to showcasing local cuisine and culinary talent."

Mr Ng and his three siblings are second-generation hawkers who took over the business from their father when he died about 20 years ago.

The event also featured Mr Chan Tuck Kwai, 52, who runs Hock Soon Roasted Duck Rice - a business he took over from his father-in-law. His signature dishes are roasted pork and char siew or Chinese barbecued pork.

Mr Chan said he has no intention of putting any pressure on his son to take over the business. However, he said he wants to pass on his cooking skills to the boy, who is now in Secondary 3.

He said: "I tell my son, whether you are interested or not interested in becoming a hawker, just try and learn the craft."