LIVING CITY VIDEO SERIES

Living City: Hawker heritage at Beauty World

Madam Annie Cheong, 66, who runs a Hong Kong-style soya sauce chicken stall at Beauty World Food Centre.
Madam Annie Cheong, 66, who runs a Hong Kong-style soya sauce chicken stall at Beauty World Food Centre.ST PHOTOS: BASIL EDWARD TEO
Mr Chng Chong Yang, 58, who runs a noodle stall at Beauty World Food Centre.
Mr Chng Chong Yang, 58, who runs a noodle stall at Beauty World Food Centre.ST PHOTOS: BASIL EDWARD TEO

A long queue of hungry customers has formed outside her Hong Kong-style soya sauce chicken stall at Beauty World Food Centre.

Madam Annie Cheong, 66, is unfazed. "(You) don't let it bother you. Concentrate on preparing your customer's order.

"What's important is that (customers) are happy with their food... This is what makes us hawkers most happy," said Madam Cheong, who has worked at the hawker centre for six years.

However, the stall's days might be numbered. Last year, its trustees went to court to seek permission to proceed with a $17.5 million collective sale.

But the High Court declined to allow three of the trustees to go ahead with the deal.

Should the sale happen one day, the new operator could redevelop the hawker centre into an air-conditioned foodcourt.

"If the new management here were to increase rental prices, I would not work anymore. I would retire and sell my recipe," said Madam Cheong.

Built in the 1980s, Beauty World Food Centre has more than 40 stalls - many of which used to operate at an old wet market in the area.

In 1989, ownership of Beauty World Centre was transferred from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to Pidemco Holdings - then a subsidiary of URA.

The food centre became privately owned a decade later, after Pidemco sold the shopping centre to 194 individual buyers.

The future is also uncertain for hawker Chng Chong Yang, who has been selling noodles at the food centre for almost 20 years.

He has known some of his customers since they were young children.

"I knew some of my customers before they got married. I saw their kids grow up, enter national service and then complete it," said the 58-year-old.

Madam Cheong, Mr Chng and other long-time hawkers at this well-known food centre are featured in the season finale of video series Living City.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2018, with the headline 'Hawker heritage at Beauty World'. Print Edition | Subscribe