Fan of Armenian Street Char Kway Teow? For at least $10,000, you can learn to cook it

Mr Tan Boon Teck says he will supply the sauces and ingredients, so apprentices will not know the family's secret recipe. He adds that it will take about a month to learn the proper frying wok techniques.
Mr Tan Boon Teck says he will supply the sauces and ingredients, so apprentices will not know the family's secret recipe. He adds that it will take about a month to learn the proper frying wok techniques.PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Cancer-hit son of Armenian Street char kway teow hawker seeks to raise funds for his treatment

If you have been a fan of Armenian Street Char Kway Teow, you can learn how to cook it from one of the sons of the original hawker, the late Mr Tan Chong Chia, who was affectionately known as Lao Chen.

His youngest son, Mr Tan Boon Teck, 49, who was running the Block 24, Sin Ming Road stall owned by his eldest brother, Mr Tan Boon Kiat, 60, until recently, is ready to teach anyone who is willing to pay at least $10,000 for the privilege.

He said it will take about a month to learn the proper frying wok techniques from him.

However, there is a catch.

Mr Tan Boon Teck said on Thursday that he will be supplying the sauces and ingredients, so that apprentices who go on to start their own stalls will not know the family's secret recipe for the fried rice noodle dish.

He hopes that the person he teaches will open another stall under the family brand's name. Apprentices who are interested can discuss the cost and further terms and conditions with him and his brother.

He said he wanted to impart his skills to someone because he was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in May, and hopes that his offer will raise some money for his cancer treatment.

Fellow hawker Douglas Ng, 26, who runs The Fishball Story at Timber+, said yesterday that the model that Mr Tan is adopting is similar to that of a franchise.

He said: "If the recipe isn't given, then basically, this will function like a franchise. And what if the person wants to learn but doesn't want to set up a shop of the same name? What if it takes longer than a month to master the skills? It doesn't make sense to me unless you learn the whole process from scratch. Mr Tan will need to elaborate on a lot of things."

Mr Tan Boon Teck learnt how to fry kway teow from his eldest brother, Mr Tan Boon Kiat, the current owner of Armenian Street Char Kway Teow.

Their father opened the family's first fried kway teow stall at the corner of Armenian and Loke Yew streets in 1949. It became very popular for its si hum kway teow (fried kway teow with cockles) but dropped off the radar after being forced to close in 2001, when the coffee shop the stall was housed in was demolished to make way for urban redevelopment.

In 2011, the eldest of the four brothers, Mr Tan Boon Kiat, reopened Armenian Street Char Kway Teow at Block 303, Anchorvale Link in Sengkang, selling fried kway teow using his father's recipe.

The family then opened one more stall at the Tampines Roundmarket and Food Centre in 2013, and another in Sin Ming Road in 2014.

The Sin Ming Road branch, which Mr Tan Boon Teck managed, is now closed owing to his medical condition.

Interested apprentices should call Ms Cindy Tan, daughter of Mr Tan Boon Kiat, on 9851-3725 for more information.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2017, with the headline 'Hawker offers to impart skills - for at least $10k'. Print Edition | Subscribe