Foodie awards mark Bukit Panjang food centre's opening

When 169 May Fish Soup's owner, Mr Ng Lee Tuck, wanted to open a stall at Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre and Market, his 61-year-old mother did not think he would cut it as a hawker.

But, as one of 10 recipients of the food centre's Residents & Foodies' Choice Award, the 36-year-old has proven himself.

He says in Mandarin: "My mother was worried I was not serious about being a hawker, so this award shows how serious I am. It is my responsibility to keep the standards up."

His mother runs her own fish soup stall at Marsiling Lane Market & Cooked Food Centre.

Although the Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre and Market has been open since Dec 29, its official opening was marked yesterday.

As part of the festivities, the foodie award was given to the 10 hawkers by guest of honour Mr Chan Chun Sing, secretarygeneral of the National Trades Union Congress and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

The 10 garnered the most votes from patrons. From April 23 to July 15, 5,770 votes were cast online and at the hawker centre, where diners could drop their vote into a box.

Besides 169 May Fish Soup, the other winners - a mix of old-time and young hawkers - include Zai Lai, which sells lor mee; dessert stall Like Pudding; Teochew Noodles, which specialises in fishball noodles; Beauty World Hakka Handmade Yong Tau Foo; and Father & Son, which sells char kway teow, Hokkien mee and fried carrot cake.

The hawker centre - with a market on its second floor - seats 500 people and has 28 cooked food stalls. It is the first of 20 new hawker centres that the Government will build by 2027 and is managed by social enterprise NTUC Foodfare.

For dessert stall Like Pudding, the accolade shows that the effort taken to add local desserts to the menu has paid off.

The stall is run by a father-and- son team, Mr Chen Hsien Yi, 56, and Mr Kelvin Chen, 32. They moved to Singapore from Taiwan in 1997 and are now Singapore citizens.

They opened a stall at Golden Mile Food Centre in April last year, specialising in Taiwan-style flavoured dessert puddings with toppings made from scratch.

But one of the conditions of opening at Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre and Market was that they had to include Singapore desserts such as tau suan (mung bean soup) and cheng tng on the menu.

The younger Mr Chen says in Mandarin: "We spent three months tasting desserts from other stalls and perfecting our recipes. Our older customers prefer the hot local desserts, but they are also open to trying the Taiwan puddings."

Another award recipient, Ms Siti Sahra Said Mohamed, 27, says it is reward enough when customers give positive feedback on the dishes she serves.

She and her husband, Mr Paker Pichay Habib Rahman, 34, run Habib Sahra Indian Muslim Food, which sells Indian rojak, mee goreng and mutton chops.

Her family members also operate a five-year-old halal chicken rice stall in Jurong West Street 81.

The mother of three children, aged three to 10, says: "I did not expect to receive an award. When our customers give feedback to say that our food is nice, I'm already happy.

"Just three months after we started in Jurong five years ago, I wondered if I could do it. But I have never given up and I have kept on going."

Eunice Quek

• Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre and Market is located at 2 Bukit Panjang Ring Road. It is open from 6am to 10.30pm daily. Individual stalls have various opening hours.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 07, 2016, with the headline 'Foodie awards mark Bukit Panjang food centre's opening'. Print Edition | Subscribe