WeEat: Supporting our Local Hawkers

Delivery on 3 June 2021 to Rubel's Dormitory

  • Mei Xiang Hawker @ Amoy Street Food Centre #01-53

  • Traditional Indonesian green-chilli chicken rice with traditional yellow rice

  • 15 pax delivered

When CMSC visited Mei Xiang, there were no customers in sight. Jewel, a CMSC volunteer, spoke to the owners of this quiet stall. Olivia (38 years old) is from Tanjong Penang, Indonesia, and lives here with her Singaporean husband (late 50s) and their daughter. Olivia loves to cook and wanted to open a food stall to sell Chinese Indonesian food. She and her husband used their life’s savings to take the step to pursue their dreams in March 2021.

However, due to the COVID-19 resurgence and the implementation of Phase 2 restrictions,  business was severely affected and the couple had to continue to drain their savings to pay off their hefty rent and other costs. They shared that they were not optimistic about recovering the cost that they poured into the business and were unable to avoid further financial loss and so they decided to close their shop by the end of June 2021. They reported that they feel sad that they will not be able to cook for others anymore and hope their participation in this initiative will help them recover some costs. 

Wah so yummy! Before, my food is all Bangladeshi food. 
I tried this Mei Xiang food today and it is very yummy. It is very tasty

Now I eat this briyani, I cannot compare it to our own Bangladeshi food.

Tasty is 100/100, I enjoy this food! 

- Rubel Rafio

About the Cuisine:

Nasi Kuning, or yellow rice is rice cooked in turmeric

The main ingredients include shallot, garlic, lemongrass and coconut milk.

Nasi tuning is a staple of Indonesian celebrations, and is often served during festivals or special occasions such as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.

The colour yellow signifies good fortune, wealth and dignity. 

Green-chilli chicken rice is similar to Ayam Penyet.

However, the chicken thigh is deep-fried and topped with fresh green chilli hijab. 

Usually, the green-chilli chicken has a predominant flavour of capsicum. 

Cool fact: The chicken tastes both sweet and sour at the same time! 

Delivery on 5 June 2021 to Shamin's Dormitory

  • Bismillah @ Amoy Street Food Centre #02-83

  • Maggie goreng and chicken wing

  • 170 pax delivered

Noorjahan, a 59 year old lady, has been running the Indian muslim hawker stall with her 63 year old husband for 30 years. Her father used to sell these foods since she was young before handing over the business to her. She thinks that she will likely be the last hawker in her family as the work is back breaking and not as financially rewarding compared to other forms of employment.

With heightened COVID-19 measures, many stalls have closed for the whole duration of phase 2 and business has been especially difficult for stalls located on Level 2 as there is significantly less foot traffic than before. Noorjahan shared that she feels very anxious and concerned because her income is affected. As there are very little orders for food, she opens thrice or even twice, at times, weekly. Noorjahan laments, “What’s the use of spending so much time cooking the mutton if no one buys and eats it? It's a waste of food.”  She turns to YQ to deliver food to offices but she hardly gets orders as many people living at home get their food in the surrounding HDBs.

About the Cuisine:

Mee goreng is the Malay word for "fried noodles". It was traditionally associated with South Indians, but is commonly eaten by residents in Southeast Asia, especially Singapore and Malaysia. This dish is actually a fusion food with 3 different cuisines incorporated. Mee goreng often uses the yellow egg noodle, which is Chinese in origin. The spices are drawn from Indian food and sometimes, mee goreng is even cooked with tomato sauce - an ingredient from Western cuisine! What a delightful and delectable melting pot of ingredients!

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Delivery on 5 June 2021 to Shamin's Dormitory

  • Dan's Kitchen @ Amoy Street Food Centre #01-73

  • Goreng Pisang

  • 170 pax delivered

Mr Noor is 50 years old, and his wife recently gave birth. He had spent his savings to bid for this stall last November in hopes of drawing the office crowd to his unique food. However, because of Covid-19 and the phase 2 restrictions, business has been significantly affected. This makes Mr Noor feel sad because he loves to cook and he is concerned and worried about being able to provide for his family and their growing needs.

About the Cuisine:

Goreng Pisang is the Malay word for ‘fried banana’. It is a fritter made by deep frying sweet ripe bananas covered in a batter till they turn golden brown. Usually eaten as a snack, it is popular in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, and found in many hawker centres. Amidst the different types of bananas available, traditional stalls use cooking bananas known as plantain. Plantain has a mild sweet and sour taste and firmness so they do not crumble easily when fried, as compared to using dessert bananas that are sweeter and softer.

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Delivery on 13 June 2021 to Jafor's & Taufiqal's Dormitory

  • North & South Authentic Indian Cuisine Vegetarian & Non-Vegetarian at Maxwell Food Centre #01-82

  • Naan, chicken and vegetables

  • 131 pax delivered (Jafor 120, Taufiqal 11)

hen I visited Aunty Khan, her stall was very quiet and had barely any business. She used to run the stall together with her husband, Uncle Khan, but recently, she decided to run the stall on her own and her husband is now working in another industry so as to increase their family's income. She has been at Maxwell Food Centre for about a year. Previously, she was at Lau Pa Sat for five to six years. However, an increase in rental costs at Lau Pa Sat drew her to Maxwell where rent is now $1300 a month. Prior to Covid-19, many office workers patronised Aunty and she could easily pay her rent. Unfortunately, she now only has about nine to 10 customers a day. At times, she has resorted to borrowing from her friends and relatives to cover her rent and cooks in small quantities to avoid food wastage.

 

Aunty Khan laments she is not technology savvy and does not own an online website. She only has online QR code payment but is not on any delivery platforms. Nevertheless, she opens her stall from Monday to Saturday because she believes that having a few customers is better than having none.

 

Thus, Aunty Khan was elated at our order of 120 packets of naan! Her husband helped out and the couple started preparing the food at 7am for the delivery at 11am. The couple was very excited to share their naan with the migrant brothers. Despite their slow business, they remain positive and continue to spread their love for naan to others.  

About the Cuisine:

Naan is a leavened (made with yeast) bread made from maida, an Indian white flour that is very delicate and powdery, similar to pastry flour. It is most often eaten with curry. There are also variants of naan where different ingredients are stuffed inside such as meat, onions and cheese. In the past, naan was a premium food served only to the royalty for breakfast. It is seasoned with nigella seeds (an Indian spice) which look like black seeds. One interesting fact is the way chefs cook naan - it is usually cooked using an oven, where the dough is hurled towards the wall of the oven, where it sticks. There, the bread bakes until it puffs up and chars slightly in spots. It is different from roti prata in that naan is cooked over charcoal while prata is fried in oil! 

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Delivery on 12 June 2021 to Mahmudul's  & Nill's Dormitory

  • Phoenix BBQ Seafood, Lau Pa Sat, Stall 51 - 53

  • Singapore kampong fried Rice, prawn paste chicken, chilli Kang kong

  • 200 pax delivered (Mahmudul 20, Nill 180)

Andy runs a seafood barbecue stall in Lau Pa Sat which is famous for its chilli crab, black pepper crab and sambal stingray. The stall was also featured in Lianhe Zaobao, a national Chinese newspaper, for its creative take on traditional ‘tze char’ dishes; its chilli lobster mee goreng is a delicious case in point. The main clientele are those who work in the CBD and families who dine there during the weekend. The stall is Muslim-friendly as dishes are served with ‘No Pork, No Lard’.

 

Andy opened the stall in December 2020 and hoped that the Covid-19 situation would improve in 2021. The rental is high as the entire stall takes up three units. Unfortunately, the situation changed little and Andy lost 80% of his customers during the pandemic. Although he did advertise his business on FoodPanda, this did not help much; only one order comes in every few days. 

 

Despite the challenges, Andy is very enthusiastic to participate in WeEat as he would like to introduce Chinese dishes to the migrant brothers. He designed their menu to incorporate local favourites such as fried rice, sambal kang kong, clams (or lala in Singlish) cooked in chilli crab sauce, and prawn paste fried chicken. For our brothers who do not eat seafood, he adapted the menu so they can still enjoy the dishes. 

About the Cuisine:

Sambol kang kong, chilli lala, prawn paste chicken and fried rice are common dishes in traditional ‘tze char’ stalls in Singapore, and ‘tze char’ is a Hokkien term for Chinese stalls that provide a wide range of common and affordable cooked meals. Tze char stalls are usually found in hawker centres and kopitiams. The affordable prices, coupled with big portions, make such stalls popular places to eat at.. 

 

Sambal kang kong is cooked by stir frying kangkong with sambal belacan (a chili and shrimp paste). It is usually fried in a big wok, which gives it a charred taste (also known as ‘wok hei’ in Cantonese). 

 

Chilli lala (clams are known as lala in Singapore) is cooked by stir frying clams in chilli crab sauce, which has a sweet and savoury tomato-chill tinge. This sauce tastes amazing with mantou buns, a steamed or fried Chinese dough snack!

 

Prawn paste chicken is regarded as one of the most popular crispy fried chicken dishes in Singapore, and is made with fermented shrimp paste and a host of spices.

Delivery on 13 June 2021 to Pon's Dormitory

  • Am-Mohamed Food, Lau Pa Sat, Push Cart 2

  • Mee goreng and chicken murtabak

  • 60 pax delivered

Mr Abu Bakar's stall stood out as the only stall not selling satay in the outdoor lane. Besides his two signature dishes, murtabak and mee goreng, Mr Abu also sells other Indian-Muslim food like roti prata, kambing soup and nasi goreng. 

 

Mr Abu was teary-eyed when he shared how he learnt how to cook and eventually take over the reins from his father. The family business used to operate at the Satay Club near Padang more than 30 years ago, and moved to Clarke Quay before settling down at Lau Pa Sat in 2007. Since age is catching up with Mr Abu, he now runs the stall with his relatives. Today, he mainly supervises and guides the younger ones who have taken over the cooking.

 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Mr Abu’s business has been greatly affected since almost 60% of his customers are tourists. He also misses the late night customers who patronised his stall after their graveyard shifts between 1 and 2am. Now, the stall closes at midnight. Mr Abu is in the midst of sorting out digital payment methods, and plans to bring his business online soon. 

About the Cuisine:

1) Murtabak is a stuffed pancake or pan-fried bread which is commonly found in the Arabian Peninsula and Southeast Asia. The word ‘mutabbaq’ in Arabic means folded, suggesting that murtabak may have originated from Yemen. Murtabak consists of pan-fried crepes that are stuffed with beaten eggs, chopped leeks, chives or green onion and minced meat. These crepes are then folded and cut into squares. Other common ingredients include jalapeno. Many recipes also call for clarified butter or ‘ghee’ as a part of the frying process or as a garnish for the dish. There are also vegetarian murtabaks found in Little India.

 

Making murtabak is very challenging because it is hard to make the dough extremely thin, as some versions of the dish are made with very thin sheets of bread. In some cases, the traditional sellers of this food spin the dough to thin it, and this skill requires much time and effort to hone and master. 

 

2) Mee goreng is the Malay word for ‘fried noodles’. It is traditionally associated with South Indians, but is also eaten by residents in Southeast Asia, especially Singapore and Malaysia. This dish is actually a fusion food that incorporates three cuisines. Mee goreng often uses yellow egg noodles, which is Chinese. The spices are drawn from Indian food and sometimes, mee goreng is even cooked with tomato sauce - an ingredient from Western cuisine! What a delightful and delectable melting pot of ingredients!

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