Off Duty Hawkers
By Jade Hu & Joanna Goh - Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014
They slog all day (or night) to serve you your comfort food diligently, religiously, day in day out your food but when it comes to themselves, they are just like you and me – they have their idiosyncracies and preferences. We surprise these five hawkers with that question. So are they closet foodies or couch potatoes?
#01-85, Golden Mile Hawker Centre, 505 Beach Road
Douglas Ng, of Fishball Story, who is making news of late as a young hip hawker offerings his grandmother’s fishball noodle recipe, likes trying out new food and does his best to eat a new dish each day. However, his default favourite is fish soup. Not just any, but from Ai Hut Fish Soup just a few stalls away from his. When asked why, he says: “They have a wide selection of fish and the quality is good. Best of all it’s easy to eat, convenient as I do not have much time for a meal at peak hours”. His favourite choice of fish has to be red grouper and he makes sure he finishes it to the last drop.
Seenma Nasi Padang
#01-108, Golden Mile Hawker Centre, 505 Beach Road
Seema Rahim, of Seema Nasi Padang, is a fan of her own dishes. Off duty, she prefers to rest at home after slogging for 5 days a week. She enjoys cooking Assam Pedas, a tangy, sweet-sour fish-based curry for herself. This dish is also sold as one of the many dishes at her nasi padang stall, but at home she makes a healthier version with more vegetables for herself and her family.
Annie n’ Chong
#01-60, Golden Mile Hawker Centre, 505 Beach Road
This all-round self-made chef is another hawker who believes in eating in on her days off. “I know how to bake, how to cook… When I go out to eat, I find myself constantly thinking about how much better I can do it myself, so now I just cook at home,” says Annie Teo of Annie n’ Chong, which sells prawn mee and ban mian. The upside of course is that she can simply cook whatever she feels like eating, but what happens on days when they want a break from cooking, right? “Then I just eat any chap chye png.”
Jackson Cooked Food
#01-78, Golden Mile Hawker Centre, 505 Beach Road
Jenny Tan of Jackson Cooked Food, a roast meat stall, is not fussy at all about what she eats. It’s too troublesome to run around hunting for food as she relishes her days off and wants to take her mind off thinking about food. “Don’t want to think about that lah. I just eat whatever is available.” But her one comfort food she often yearns for is “Wu tao gou (yam cake).” More often than not, she also likes to make traditional herbal soups at home for her family, “The kind that a mum would make.”
Tong Ji Lor Mee
#01-100, Golden Mile Hawker Centre, 505 Beach Road
Liew Lam Tong at Tong Ji Lor Mee knows exactly what he would go for on his day off – Nasi Biryani. Any particular stall he likes? “Not really, I just eat what’s good depending on where I am.” The lotus lor mee he sells may already be popular among the patrons but the self-proclaimed foodie is not sitting on his laurels, “I always go out on friends’ recommendations to try other people’s food; plus it’s important for a hawker to see what’s good out there so I can come back and improve on my dishes.”
As a hawker who is constantly surrounded by thoughts of food 24/7 – buying, preparing, cooking, serving etc…, sometimes it can be hard to see the idea of food as an escape or something comforting, when they get time off their work.
Food is fuel for all of us, and that includes the hawkers too. Though not all of them are necessarily good at cooking what’s outside of their own specialty, one thing is for sure – they are an industrious, and most of all, practical lot.