My Perfect Weekend with chef Pang Kok Keong

Chef Pang Kok Keong is the founder of Pang's Hakka Noodles. PHOTO: ST FILE

Who: Chef Pang Kok Keong, 46, is the founder of Pang's Hakka Noodles at Sprout Hub in Henderson Road and ARC 380 in Jalan Besar. He is also a partner at food and beverage company The Foreign Project, which owns Sichuan Alley in Telok Ayer, Birds Of A Feather in Amoy Street and Halcyon & Crane in Paragon mall.

The chef, who used to run the now-defunct Antoinette patisserie, is married to Ms Vickie Ong, 45. They have three children - Charlotte, 13, Chloe, 12, and Caelen, six.

"I work on Saturdays, so my weekend is just Sundays, which I spend with my family. Before the pandemic, we would take short trips to neighbouring countries.

Previously, when I was running Pang's Hakka Noodles at Tekka Place, I didn't even have a day off. So now, I just want to nua (Hokkien for relax) and do nothing.

Sundays start with going out for breakfast with my family. We like the mee sua soup from Chye Lye Ah Ma Mee Sua at Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre & Market; chee cheong fun from Teck Hin Delicacies at 20 Ghim Moh Road Market & Food Centre; and thunder tea rice from Hakka Lao Lei Cha at Tanglin Halt Food Centre. Or, if I've read about any interesting eatery online, we will go and try the food.

Depending on where we are, I'll also buy ingredients at the wet market or supermarket as I usually spend the rest of the afternoon testing recipes for Sichuan Alley, Pang's Hakka Noodles, or Facebook Live sessions on the Singapore Home Cooks Facebook page.

Whatever I end up cooking becomes our family dinner.

Most recently, I made prawn ramen for the first time. Preparation started on Saturday till 2am, as I had to make the prawn stock, roast the prawn shells and render the crustacean oil. Everyone enjoyed it.

Some dishes, such as traditional Hakka pork belly with yam, can take the whole day to make. If they are too labour-intensive, I will not put them up for sale.

My wife is the chief taster and gives me feedback, while my children help pluck and wash vegetables.

Chef Pang cooking at home. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PANG KOK KEONG

Sometimes, they have food requests. Recently, my son, who must eat rice, asked me to make pao fan (poached rice), a dish I have been cooking for years. It has prawns, hairy gourd and minced pork, and is finished with a dash of rice wine and shallot oil.

My daughters generally eat anything. I've been cooking more Hakka food for them as I don't want them to grow up knowing only McDonald's.

Chef Pang baking with his second daughter Chloe. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PANG KOK KEONG

So far, Hakka red wine chicken has received mixed reactions. However, my eldest daughter loves Hakka kueh and abacus seeds.

If there's still time after dinner, I will do more research and reading as I won't have the time during the work week."

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