Hawker feast and tour event aimed at drawing crowds back to Chinatown

Mr Johnny Tng of 103 Fried Hokkien Mee will be serving fried carrot cake as part of this year's Hawker Day Out Event. ST PHOTO: EUGENE GOH

SINGAPORE - Mr Johnny Tng has been whipping up local favourites such as fried carrot cake and Hokkien mee for about 20 years at Chinatown Complex.

The 50-year-old owner of 103 Fried Hokkien Mee at the food centre will be serving fried carrot cake as part of a hawker feast at this year's Hawker Day Out Event.

Groups of up to 10 can enjoy 10 local dishes with coffee and tea. It costs $80 for five people and $150 for 10. To book, visit this website.

The event, organised by the Chinatown Complex Hawkers' Association (CCHA), will be held on two consecutive weekends - June 3 to 5 and June 10 to 12.

This is the second time the event will be held, after the first in 2020. The Singapore Tourism Board is supporting CCHA with a grant for the event.

At a media preview of the event on Thursday (June 2), Mr Tng said he decided to participate in the hawker feast as he hopes it can draw back crowds to Chinatown.

His business had taken a hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic over the past two years, said Mr Tng, noting that more than 50 per cent of his business comes from tourists and office workers.

"Hopefully by having this programme, we can have more people coming (back to Chinatown)," he added.

Mr Tan Ming Han, CCHA's vice-president, said the first run of the event was successful. With safe management measures relaxed, it is a good opportunity to promote hawker culture as tourists are returning to Singapore, he added.

"We hope to use this opportunity to promote our hawkers' Unesco (heritage listing)," said Mr Tan. Hawker culture in Singapore was added to the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2020.

Other highlights of the event include a market-to-table tour where participants can taste hawker food prepared using the wet market's daily produce and learn about uncommon vegetables such as peanut roots.

It will be conducted by local tour agency Tribe, with a guide leading participants on a two-hour morning tour of the wet market at the basement of Chinatown Complex.

During the tour, participants will meet stallholders selling items such as pork, fish and vegetables. At the end of the tour, they will get to prepare and cook a dish using ingredients from the market at designated cooking stations on Level 2 of Chinatown Complex.

Tribe's head of partnership and business development, Mr Law Yock Song, said it hopes that people can experience the wet market charm and authenticity that supermarkets and online grocers cannot replicate.

The tour, which costs $150 for four people, can be booked on this website.

Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information and Second Minister for Home Affairs, who was at the event, said the last two years have been difficult for hawkers, particularly those in the city centre.

"They have been doubly hit," she said, noting the absence of office crowds, with many working from home, and tourist arrivals, due to border controls.

Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information and Second Minister for Home Affairs, with members of the Chinatown Complex Hawkers' Association at Chinatown Complex on June 2, 2022. ST PHOTO: EUGENE GOH

Mrs Teo, who is also adviser to Jalan Besar GRC grassroots organisations of Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng, said this event is to strengthen the hawkers' pace of recovery and let Singapore know that they are back in business.

It also hopes to encourage families, particularly during the school holidays, to consider Chinatown as a location to visit.

"In doing so, hopefully we can rediscover another part of Singapore, and at the same time, support the hawkers through this period," she added.

For more information on the Hawkers Day Out event, visit their website.

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