Throughout the years, we have always been talking about how to keep Singapore’s hawker culture alive. Of course, manpower is always the biggest issue here. As our elderly hawkers retire, there are far fewer young people willing to carry on Singapore’s street food tradition. A good example is the recent closure of famous hokkien mee stall Yong Huat. Some hawkers are luckier because their children are willing to quit their jobs to help out at the stalls. And there are other veteran hawkers who prefer to withhold knowledge from the younger generation which means that no one gets to benefits in the end.
Mention “Bedok Bak Chor Mee” and I am sure what comes to your mind immediately is a soupy bowl of minced meat noodles with meatballs and minced pork. If you are a fan of Bedok-style bak chor mee or have been living in Bedok since childhood, you will probably recognize Mr Tan Poh Chye. His grandfather started the business in 1923 along the streets of Chai Chee and he inherited the trade from his father. This 65-year-old hawker has retired from his original stall Tian Nan Xing Minced Pork Noodle at Blk 511 Bedok North. His son and wife run the stall now.
But there is this saying — once a hawker, always a hawker. Even though Mr Tan has retired for a few years, he is still very much interested in the trade. While he was doing volunteer work, he got to know Mr David Tan who is the owner of this coffeeshop. David has been a fan of his bak chor mee and encouraged him to make a comeback to guide the younger generation. Now, you can enjoy the good old traditional Chai Chee Bak Chor Mee at a coffeeshop in MacPherson Lane!