Singapore food feuds: 6 prominent cases

The Zam Zam and Victory Restaurants on North Bridge Road.
The Zam Zam and Victory Restaurants on North Bridge Road. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SOOThis article was first published on Aug 2, 2014, and updated on Dec 5, 2016

SINGAPORE - A murtabak food feud between Zam Zam and Victory Restaurant led to a slashing incident which left Victory Restaurant supervisor Liakath Ali Mohamed Ibrahim with a permanent scar.

Food feuds between rival restaurants or hawker stalls can heat up quickly, and leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

Here are some prominent ones from The Straits Times archives:

1. What's your beef?

A file photo of Mr Anthony Tan. He and his brother Francis Tan both claimed they were the true successors of the famous Hock Lam Street beef kway teow. PHOTO: ST FILE

Brothers Anthony and Francis Tan both claimed they were the true successors of the famous Hock Lam Street beef kway teow.

Mr Anthony Tan said he had helped his father cook at their stall in Hock Lam Street since he was 12. He ran Original Popular Hock Lam Street Beef Kway Teow at Far East Square.

Mr Francis Tan, a former export trader who entered the beef noodles business much later, opened a shop at Purvis Street called Hock Lam Street Popular Beef Kway Teow.

He claimed that his father's recipe was passed down to him, while Mr Anthony Tan was helping his father serve customers at the stall.

2. Minced meat mix-up

A file photo of Mr Tang Chay Seng at his Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle stall in Crawford Lane. PHOTO: BUSINESS TIMES

Mr Tang Chay Seng, owner of Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle in Crawford Lane, took his nephew Arthur Tung to court for trying to pass off his stall, Lau Dai Hua, as the original.

Mr Tang, who runs Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, claimed that his nephew, Mr Arthur Tung Yang Wee, had passed off his pork noodles business as being linked to the Crawford Lane one.

The court dismissed Mr Tang's claims in 2010.

Mr Tang's stall was made one of two Singapore's first Michelin-starred hawkers in the inaugural Singapore Michelin Guide in July 2016.

3. Katong laksa kerfuffle

A file photo of 328 Katong Laksa eatery in Katong. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Katong laksa was popularised by brothers Ng Juat Swee and Ng Chwee Seng, who started selling the noodles in a coffee shop in East Coast Road in 1963.

Four rivals had popped up along the same stretch of East Coast Road by 1999, and many of them had names with "Katong Laksa" in it.

After the spurt of publicity about the feud, two of the original five stalls started franchise arrangements, resulting in branches being set up all over Singapore.

328 Katong Laksa at 53 East Coast Road was recently given the Bib Gourmand award. This is owned by Ms Nancy Lim.

4. Bonafide Beancurd

A file photo of the three Koh brothers (from left) William, Koh Koon Meng and David, seen here with their mother. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Rochor beancurd war is a tale of bitter business rivalry among the Koh siblings. It began in the 1960s when their parents peddled tau huay, a beancurd custard, from a pushcart in the Rochor and Beach Road areas.

After their father died in 1986, the stall had shop units in Selegie Road and Middle Road before settling in Short Street in 1998.

Disputes over control of the family business, however, saw the siblings set up their own stalls.

5. Mee pok clone wars

A file photo of 132 Mee Poh Kueh Teow Mee's owner Chan Sek Inn (left) and his son, Choon Wing (right). PHOTO: ST FILE

Four hawkers were plying their noodle business within a few kilometres from each other. Each stall claimed to be independent, yet all were seemingly associated by name or ownership.

At the centre of this war is 132 Mee Poh Kueh Teow Mee, started by Mr Chan Sek Inn at the old Siglap market in the 1970s.

One stall owner was the brother-in-law of Mr Chan, another had worked for him for 10 years.

6. Chicken rice contender

Lunch hour at Ah Tai Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Centre yesterday saw a queue of about 30 people. PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr Wong Liang Tai, former cook at the Tian Tian chicken rice in Maxwell market, set up his own stall nearby after being dismissed from the famous hawker stall.

Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice saw long queues when regulars found out that it was set up by Mr Wong.

He was sacked by Tian Tian management, who said he shouted at staff. He said he felt under-appreciated.