Heart-warming video reminds Singaporeans of 'disappearing street food culture'

SINGAPORE - Are we taking our street food for granted?

It's a question posed at the end of a moving video, about a day in the life of a Hokkien mee seller, which has been earning praises online.

Titled Hokkien Mee, the two-minute clip stars Chia Soon Kia, the 73-year-old behind the highly rated Havelock Road Blk 50 Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee stall at ABC Brickworks Market & Food Centre.

Speaking in the Teochew dialect, Mr Chia narrates how his workday starts: he wakes up at 4.30am to prepare the ingredients for his fried Hokkien prawn mee before he starts selling it at 9am.

First, he cooks the prawns and peels them before cooking the squid and chopping them into bite-sized pieces. He then makes the broth for the noodles and ensures everything is ready in time for opening.

"I started in this business when I was a teenager. Sure, there is hardship but you get used to it," he says in the video.

With a smile on his face, Mr Chia adds that one can be happy as long as he is healthy and has clothes to wear, food to eat and things to do.

Hokkien Mee has garnered 350,000 views and more than 2,700 shares since it was posted on Tiger Beer's Facebook page last Sunday (April 2).

It is part of Tiger Beer's Tiger Street Food series, a movement to "support Singapore's beloved but disappearing street food culture, and give it the iconic recognition it deserves".

This is not the first time concern has been raised over the decline of good hawker food in Singapore. In 2013, then-Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said it was a "challenge is to find enough Singaporeans who'd be willing to enter this profession, which is a difficult, challenging one".

Many of Singapore's long-time hawker stalls have closed their doors in recent years, citing old age and difficulties finding successors for their businesses.

Late last month, the popular Ah Lo Cooked Food, which sold steamed radish cake and yam cake, closed after 45 years as the 80-year-old owner was getting on in years and had no successor.

The news came days after the 63-year-old owner of the famous MacPherson Minced Meat Noodles stall announced his plans to retire.

huizhen@sph.com.sg

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