(Reservations are required!)
Times are still tough for players in the F&B trade, folks still eat out but budgets are getting thinner and many still don’t spend unnecessary monies on transport to visit places just for food. So I asked some hawkers at Gluttons Bay, “What are you planning to attract the locals with their skinny family meal budgets?” . Then one came up with what may be the first ala-carte buffet cze cha sets from a tiny hawker stall in Singapore.
“10 dishes for $19 a person, eat as much as you want!” was Mr Chan Yau Chong’s plan, to which I naturally queried if he can turn some profit. He smiled, nodded and turned away, taking with him a cost control operational secret that only experienced players know. “ I know there are families out there who wants more than a basic family cze cha meal at affordable prices” and this was Mr Chan’s duty to dole it out as best as he can. Mind you, those 10 dishes include 1/Fried Seafood Omelette, 2/Indonesian Lemongrass Chicken, 3/Mongolian Pork Ribs, 4/Thick Onion Omelette, 5/Crispy Cereal Fried Rice, 6/Sambal Kangkong, 7/Boneless Fried Prawn Paste Chicken (their signature), 8/Oyster Kailan, 9/Hong Kong Noodles, 10/Sweet and Sour Pork, not exactly a low cost, all vegetable, starch and tofu budget buffet affair.
I tried them all of course, and I imagined how two persons could tear into all those 10 dishes and waddle happily away after.. They have a minimum of two-persons requirement and customers can order as much as they want (one of any item at a time). The favourite of mine was the Indonesian lemongrass Chicken- double fried for sinful crispiness and laced with kicap chilli sauce and lemongrass. The Boneless Prawn Paste Chicken was difficult to hate, because it was so easy to eat and like. It was done like their signature Prawn Paste Chicken Wings but using boneless leg meat. The Mongolian Pork had a light spicy and tangy sensation and it went so well with the Oyster Kailan- just add rice, in this case their newly created Crispy Cereal Fried Rice with seafood bits. I asked if they will cook all this and keep them in a chaffing dish and warm them up when customers order, and Mr Chan reminded me these dishes are not stews and cannot sit long in a container. So each dish is done ala-minute upon order, so expect a bit of waiting time for these piping hot items.
Cze cha dishes are not cheap, but having a family of 5 tear into 10 dishes on a buffet basis at $95 is a steal. Plus they can always take that charming stroll right along the Marina Bay beside, framed by the stunning skyline as a bonus after eating there.
I always encourage hawkers to be innovative- look at the daily ingredients and come up with something different, yet not, be it with pricing value or an interesting rendition of what they normally sell, or both. I say to all F&B players- especially those in town who are seeing less walk-in traffic this Covid season - people still need to eat and while budgets may be tight, think hard about creating something folks cannot easily get “downstairs” and give them good value and reason to visit you.
Hong Kong Street Old Chun Kee
Makansutra Gluttons Bay
8 Raffles Ave, beside The Esplanade
Tuesday – Friday: 3pm-10.30pm
Saturday & Sunday: 1pm – 10.30pm
Note: Buffet available only every Wednesday.
Please kindly call Hong Kong Street Old Chun Kee's team between 12pm to 4.30pm at +65 8710 0511 to make the reservation.