30-year-old former bank exec gave up $5,000 job to sell prawn mee

Mr Low Keen, 30, gave up a $5,000 job to sell prawn mee.

But the hawker doesn't regret it.

Mr Low says: "I love prawn mee. It's simple but flavourful.

"And I hope to build a business around selling something that I love."

He opened his stall - Ah Geok Prawn Noodle - along Toa Payoh North in August.

Mr Low has a degree in mechanical engineering from the National University of Singapore.

Previously, he was an operation executive in an investment bank for two years, and a sales representative with a Japanese trading company for three years.

He says: "After a while, I grew tired of the corporate world. My first job was monotonous and didn't provide many opportunities for growth.

"My second job required me to travel frequently - at least a quarter of the year. I couldn't do that with a kid on the way."

Mr Low is married to a 30-year-old executive in a drilling company. They live in a four-room flat in Tiong Bahru and are expecting their first child in March next year.

"I wanted more flexibility at work," he says. "I've also wanted to be my own boss for years.

"The fact that I can decide how much I want to sell each day attracts me.

In April this year, he invested about $10,000 setting up his stall.

"My father once ran a stall for a year in the 2000s. He passed me his recipe, and I've been trying to improve on it since."

But when the idea was first mooted, his wife wasn't very keen. Said Mrs Lydia Low: "I was afraid we wouldn't be able to make enough to maintain our current lifestyle.

"I also wondered why he wanted to rough it out when he could work in an air-conditioned office. But since it's his passion, I support him wholeheartedly."

For now, Mr Low sells what he likes. On a good day, he sells up to 70 bowls. He buys ingredients from dealers and wet markets, and also shells prawns, boils soup and fries the pork, lard and shallots for his dishes.

In the afternoon, he washes the used bowls.

The work takes him about 11 hours a day, mostly while standing. His work attire is a T-shirt and shorts because of the heat. Mr Low also suffers burns and blisters every week from touching hot surfaces accidentally.

He says: "It's part and parcel of the job. It's more tiring than an office job, but I have my own freedom."

His dream? To one day expand his business, open a restaurant or cafe. "I enjoy food, and want to share it with others. Even though it's hard, it sure beats being in an office."

What: Ah Geok Prawn Noodle
Where: 1008a Toa Payoh North, #01-03, Singapore 318996
Hours: Mondays to Saturdays, 11am to 4pm
Price: $3.50 to $7 per bowl
Is it good? The soup is thick and robust, with fresh, juicy prawns and well-cooked pork slices. But the noodles are a bit on the hard side. Could be improved but still, a satisfying meal.

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