Say wok-hey to these young hawkers who keep the tradition sizzling
These days, it’s no longer a surprise to see youngsters manning your neighbourhood hawker stalls. It could be the responsibility of carrying on their family businesses or simply passion for dishing out local fare, but one thing’s for sure — this new generation of young hawkers are not just here to play chef.
The next time you’re wandering around your nearby hawker centre, keep a lookout for these young hawkers who are helping to keep the tradition sizzling.
1. Prawn & Mee (Bedok)
It’s hard to miss Prawn & Mee’s minimalistic and modern storefront amongst your typical hawker setting. The pair who run the stall consists of 30-year-olds Gladwin Yap (left) and Raphael Sim (right), who are both graduates of the Culinary Institute of America. Fun fact: the stall used to be called Plum & Rice, but in 2017, the two decided to steer its direction towards prawn noodles instead.
The menu features only two classic options: soup or dry Prawn Noodle and Pork Ribs Prawn Noodle, both of which comes in small (S$4), medium (S$6) medium and large (S$8) sizes. You can also opt for your dish to be spicy, which definitely amps up the shiok factor of your prawn mee. According to reviews online, the already-peeled prawns (plus points) are fresh while the pork is tender. The broth is also sufficiently umami, which is very important.
It’s good to note that there tends to be quite a crowd at the stall during lunch hours, which proves its popularity.
Prawn & Mee
Bedok North Market & Food Centre
Street 1 Bedok North, #01-45, Singapore 460216
Opening hours: 8am – 2pm (Tues – Sun, Closed on Mon)
Telephone: +65 9130 1200
2. Wow Wow West (Bukit Merah)
This is a story of boy meets girl (running coffeeshop), where boy and girl fall in love and get married eventually. Wow Wow West is owned by Elizabeth’s (right) family, and while she no longer works at the stall, her husband Jayden (left) has taken over the operations of the business with the family.
But something that’s more important than this love story? The couple’s passion for running their own shop and the life lessons they’ve picked up along the way. For Jayden, he had to move on from his “cushy” office job in the financial industry and adapt to non-standard working hours at the stall. For Elizabeth, she had to endure the stereotypes that came with a young person working as a hawker, as well as the physical injuries that comes with being a chef.
Hard work goes into every plate at the Western food stall, and their portions really do make you go wow. The menu features classics like Chicken Chop (S$7), Fish & Chips (S$8) and more. You can also order an a la carte Cheese Sausage (S$2 chicken, S$3 pork) or get it as a set which comes with baked beans, coleslaw and fries (S$4 for chicken, S$5 for pork).
Reviews online show that the food tastes as good as it looks, so if you’re ever at the Bukit Merah area, consider some western fare!
Opening hours sometimes vary for each outlet, kindly check their Facebook page for updates
Wow Wow West
ABC Brickworks Market & Food Centre
6 Jalan Bukit Merah, #01-133, Singapore 150006
Opening hours: 10.30am – 2.30pm, 4.30pm – 9pm (Tues – Sat, Closed on Mon & Sun)
Telephone: +65 9729 4443
Wow Wow West
Jalan Bukit Merah, #01-1068, Singapore 160146
Opening hours: timings vary, kindly check their Facebook page
Telephone: +65 9380 8571
3. Birdhaus by Project Warung (Bukit Merah)
The youngster behind Birdhaus by Project Warung is 28-year-old Indra, who also founded Burgs by Project Warung with two other friends, Syafiq and Ridzuan, who are all only in their mid to late-twenties. While Syafiq has left the trio to form Ashes Burnnit, which has taken over Burgs’ debut stall at Golden Mile (the latter moved on to four other outlets islandwide), both parties are faring great with the crowd.
It’s interesting to share that the trio did not attempt to fly out of their nests with no training though; while Indra has restaurant experience in Dubai, Syafiq and Ridzuan both cooked at a one-Michelin star restaurant in Singapore.
Birdhaus is a Muslim-owned fried chicken concept which features flavours like Garlic Parmesan, Honey Soy and Hot Chicken. You can even get indomie or rice with crispy crushed battered fried chicken mixed with sambal (S$7.50).
Not forgetting the important sides when eating fast food, they also sell Mashed Potato (S$5), Cheese Fries (S$5) and more. Check out their menu here.
Birdhaus by Project Warung
1 Bukit Merah Lane, #01-40, Singapore 151119
Opening hours: 11.30am – 9.30pm (daily)
Telephone: +65 9456 8124
4. Tree Coconut Nasi Lemak (Jalan Besar)
Some new beginnings only happen 30 years later; Tree Coconut Nasi Lemak was created by 25-year-old Charlene and her father, whose idea of wanting to re-start his nasi lemak business since his old stall at Simpang Bedok caught her interest.
Charlene is a Biomedical Science university graduate and runs Tree Coconut with her friend Yuting (27) who was previously in the insurance sector, while the former’s father helps out in the afternoons.
Their dishes are extremely affordable, where the Nasi Lemak Set (S$2.50) comes with your usual fried egg, fried chicken wing and sambal. However, you do need to add on S$0.50 for ikan bilis, which still makes the meal reasonably-priced.
Reviews online seem to share similar sentiments about the otah (S$1), which is that it doesn’t have that grilled, smokey flavour, but nonetheless still tender and juicy. The nasi lemak overall still seem to be enjoyed by many, with a constant flow of patrons and even days where food is sold out.
Tree Coconut Nasi Lemak
Berseh Food Centre
166 Jalan Besar, #01-27, Singapore 208877
Opening hours: 10am – 3pm (Mon – Sat, Closed on Sun)
Telephone: +65 8181 9545
It is certainly inspiring to see the younger generation step up to the challenge of being hawkers, and more so the heartwarming support from the community of foodies.