Hawker food is an integral part of Singapore’s culture, with thousands of stalls serving up delicious fare islandwide.
Long hours, being constantly on one’s feet and toiling at the stove in sweltering heat are deterrents for both the younger generation and pioneers who are getting on in age.
As this is a challenging occupation, many are exiting the scene.
To preserve Singapore’s unique hawker heritage, Tiger Beer’s #UncageStreetFood offers stories of inspirational hawkers and features events to celebrate local gastronomy. In 2017, the Tiger Street Food Support Fund (TSFSF) was launched with a total funding of $250,000, with 25 new and aspiring hawkers receiving $10,000 each.
On a heritage trail
From young, Mr Ler Jie Wei spent hours observing his mother serve traditional bak chor mee (minced meat noodles). Seeing many customers relive their childhood memories through the noodles left a deep impression on him. As he saw more “old school” hawkers disappear, he was determined to preserve his family’s heritage.
With the aid of the TSFSF, the former banker quit his day job and opened his own “Famous Eunos Bak Chor Mee” at Lucky Plaza’s food court with plans to expand.
Mr Ler is continuing the legacy of his great-great grandfather, who started peddling the soup version of the noodles around Eunos on foot, carrying a hefty portable kitchen on a pole till he became hunched. This gave rise to its nickname, “kiao gu” (hunchback) noodles.
Secret recipe for success
Another success story is Ms Elizabeth Puspa Maniam’s nasi lemak stall.
Previously an immigration officer, she always wanted to share her cooking with others. With the funding from Tiger, she set up “K.R. Banana Leaf Masala Chicken Nasi Lemak” stall at Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre last year.
It now draws crowds, with diners eager for dollops of its secret “sedap sambal” chilli sauce.
The fund has also helped Mr Ngoh Jook Guan get back on his feet.
In 2015, the long-time hawker suffered a heart attack and had to close his economy rice stall. When he recovered, he opened a new stall with assistance from the TSFSF last year.
Located at Our Tampines Hub, “Botak Delicacy” serves porridge and braised pork rice.
A roaring trade
The Tiger Street Food Festival returns for the second consecutive year. Join in the movement to #UncageStreetFood in Singapore on June 8, while raising funds for the TSFSF.
Last year, the festival featured hawkers from the TSFSF, but this year new hawkers are welcome to participate as well.
Candidates must have owned a hawker stall (not applicable to franchisees) for less than three years. Applications close on May 11, 2018, at 11.59pm.
Mark your calendar
Foodies, you can also unite to do your part to #UncageStreetFood. Head to these events where proceeds go towards the Tiger Street Food Support Fund:
Tiger Street Food Pop-up
When: May 11, 5pm to 10.30pm
Where: The Deck, 120A Prinsep Street
Tiger Street Food Festival
When: June 8, 5pm to 10.30pm
Where: Tan Quee Lan Street
Visit http://tigerbeer.com.sg/streetfood for more details on the events and to sign up as a hawker.
Enjoy Tiger Responsibly.