Trio put in effort to keep up with changing tastes

The sambal stingray, satay beehoon and Hokkien mee stalls draw the longest queues at Chomp Chomp, but they have not been around as long as several other Serangoon Gardens hawkers.

Oyster omelette seller Tan Ah Piang, 70, cheng tng maker Cheng Ah Tee, 66, and satay man Tan Tuan Hua, 61, were street hawkers at Maju Avenue in the 1960s, before they were cleared out of the streets into Chomp Chomp in 1972.

The trio readily admit that their stalls are not among the most popular. "But we are the few first-generation street hawkers who are still here every day," said satay hawker Tan.

They said that the tastes of customers have changed over the last five decades.

Mr Cheng is proud of his sweet potato soup boiled with ginger, but stopped using ginger "a long time ago" because younger customers do not like the taste.

Mr Tan Tuan Hua meanwhile switched from selling hand-made ngoh hiang, or Chinese sausage, to satay 10 years ago, while Mr Tan Ah Piang said that his omelettes are more popular among the older generation than younger customers.

While welcoming the Urban Redevelopment Authority's plans to retain the neighbourhood's charm, satay seller Tan Tuan Hua said it has to go beyond preserving buildings or streets.

He said: "Traditional street food culture is disappearing. That is worth keeping too."

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