After ordering noodles from a self-service stall, he flew into a rage when he was told that the food would not be brought to his table.
The 62-year-old customer started arguing with the seller at the Zhong Xing Ban Mian stall.
Their spat soon turned violent when the customer smashed a bottle and threatened the seller, who retaliated by splashing him with hot soup.
In the ensuing chaos, someone started waving a chopper, frightening the diners in the hawker centre at Block 207, New Upper Changi Road, near Bedok Interchange, on Monday evening.
In a report yesterday, Shin Min Daily News identified the seller as a 38-year-old man known only as Mr Yang.
His father said that his son had merely asked the customer to collect his food from the stall, which sells handmade noodles.
But the man started scolding Mr Yang and knocked over a fan in the stall.
Mr Yang's father told the evening Chinese language daily: "Accompanied by three or four of his friends, the customer picked up a bottle, smashed it and walked towards my son."
A diner who witnessed the altercation told Shin Min that she then saw Mr Yang splashing hot soup on the customer.
Wanting to be known only as Ms Jenny, she said: "Somebody then picked up a chopper and waved it towards the older man. It gave many of the diners here a scare."
The police said yesterday that they received a call about the incident at around 8.30pm on Monday.
Mr Yang and the customer were arrested for criminal intimidation. The police are investigating.
When The New Paper went to the hawker centre at around 7pm yesterday, it was packed with diners.
A check on 10 stalls revealed that almost all of them are self-service.
There was a queue at the ban mian stall. A man, who identified himself as Mr Yang's brother, told TNP that his sibling was released at 5pm yesterday.
He said in Mandarin: "My brother was angry with what the uncle had done."
He declined to answer any more questions, saying that he was too busy handling the food orders.
TNP spoke to three stallholders, who said they did not see the incident but had heard about it. All three, who declined to give their names, felt that the customer was being unreasonable.
One of them said: "I think the customer was very unreasonable.
"My stall is also self-service. But if I'm not busy and the customer sits nearby, I may serve him.
"It is common for stalls in hawker centres to be self-service. If you don't like this, then go to a restaurant."
This article was first published on Oct 8, 2014.
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