Simpang Bedok food centre reopens

SINGAPORE - Kampung@Simpang Bedok closed a year ago after opening to much fanfare as a hawker centre run by a social enterprise.

Now, the food centre - simply called The Bedok Marketplace - has a new lease of life.

It reopened on Thursday and the spruced up space at Simpang Bedok is not just any hawker centre, but one modelled after hip cafes. The stalls have facades that look like shophouses.

Where there used to be 32 stalls, there are now 15, with each stall occupying 280 sq ft.

So far, eight stalls have opened and, by next week, three more will be ready. There are four vacant ones, to be filled by Christmas.

The new owners are a group of seven partners. The main owner running the show is BC Food Concept, which also owns The Bark Cafe at Changi Chapel & Museum, and an advertising arm, Creative Toolbox.

Mr Sean Goh, 36, one of the partners and director of Creative Toolbox, had heard about the closure and expressed interest in developing the space with new concepts.

They spent $700,000 on the renovations.

The Bedok Marketplace's landlord is Far East Organisation. Tenants on the ground floor include Giant supermarket.

The new owners have a six-year lease and are charging rentals ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 a month.

Stalls that have opened so far include meat-centric grill The Chop Chop Selections, Vietnamese shop Huong Que and Seng's Wanton Noodles from Dunman Food Centre.

A familiar face at The Bedok Marketplace is Mr Lionel Lye, 54, who was one of the partners of the Best Of Asia social enterprise which ran Kampung@Simpang Bedok.

He is now running two stalls there - a Taiwanese porridge stall, as well as The Crab Story, which opens next week. Other stalls which are set to open include one selling barbecued chicken wings and a fruit stall.

Mr Alvin Lee, 30, owner of Seng's Wanton Noodles, says: "I love the concept of the space. It is very different from the usual hawker centre. I hope it will attract the crowds to return."

The food centre is accessible only by stairs and this has always been an issue for diners and hawkers. The new owners have installed a new wheelchair stairlift for diners on wheelchairs.

To ramp up publicity, Mr Goh adds that the plan is to "market the place like a shopping mall" and have a marketing campaign to promote the location.

The Bedok Marketplace's opening adds to the food choices in the area. There is a new mixed development, East Village, in the vicinity and old favourites such as supper haunt Spize and halal dim sum restaurant Tang Tea House.

Fully aware of the issues that have plagued the social enterprise, Mr Goh hopes that the creative food concepts will draw people.

He says: "Even though it is a hawker centre space, it is not the typical format. Food is priced slightly above the usual hawker prices, but we serve restaurant quality food. After the previous closure, we want to create new life in the area."

The Bedok Marketplace at 348 Bedok Road, Simpang Bedok, opens from noon to midnight daily. For more information, go to https://www.facebook.com/thebedokmarketplace

STALLS TO CHECK OUT

SHENG JI

What: This stall sells claypot frog porridge and barbecued seafood. Prices for the frog porridge start at $8, while seafood favourites such as sambal stingray and sambal sotong start at $12 a serving. The nautical-themed stall is run by the same owner behind Hong Chang Eating House at Braddell Road, which also sells the same dishes.

SENG'S WANTON NOODLES

What: Mr Alvin Lee's signature wonton noodles, dumpling noodles, chicken feet and mushroom noodles. Prices range from $3.50 to $5.50.

HUONG QUE

What: Mr Leo Ng, 33, and his Vietnamese wife Vu Thi Hai, 30, serve Vietnamese dishes such as the classic beef noodle ($5.50), braised meat rice ($6) and grilled pork chop rice ($5.50).

HAO ZHOU DAO

What: For some comfort food, have some Taiwanese sweet potato porridge with an accompanying array of meat, fish and vegetable dishes. Prices start at $3 for a choice of three items.

THE CHOP CHOP SELECTIONS

What: A meat-centric grill where customers pick from sausages, steaks and other meats and choose how they want them done.

AYUTTHAYA MOOKATA

What: Fans of Thai-style grill-cum- steamboat can try this mookata stall. It costs $38.90 for a set good for two to three diners. Diners can also order their favourite meats and seafood from the a la carte menu.

MENYA

What: For a ramen fix, tuck into the ramen from Menya. Menu items include shabu shabu ramen ($9.80), char siew ramen and miso ramen ($8.80), complete with the much-loved runny egg.

euniceq@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Dec 5, 2014.
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