In a stall at Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre, 25 year old Darran Tan is serving a customer, dishing out economic bee hoon.
The pony-tailed young hawker has been serving the neighbourhood’s residents since the hawker centre opened in 2015. “I feel most satisfied when the customers finish all their food, or when they come back and tell me the food is good,” he shared.
Mr Tan’s stall – Tian Tian Nasi Lemak – is one of a chain of stalls selling nasi lemak and economic bee hoon that was started by his father and a business partner. He began helping out in the business after finishing national service. Today, he runs the Bukit Panjang stall with 2 assistants, starting his day at 5 am, until 8pm each day. It is hard work but he enjoys it.
Like the other stalls at Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre, Tian Tian Nasi Lemak provides affordable set meals from as low as $2.50. And, although nasi lemak and economic bee hoon does not come to mind as a healthy food option, things are somewhat different at Tian Tian – NTUC Foodfare worked with the owners to provide lower calorie options for customers.
How does Mr Tan ensure the quality of his food? He shared that new stall assistants are sent to one of the stalls to understudy seasoned cooks. He also appreciates the feedback from his customers. “We’ll adjust the taste when customers give us feedback. We want them to come back,” he said. Mr Tan hopes to expand the business in the future, to serve more Singaporeans in other locations. “We’ll need a central kitchen then,” he said, with a quiet determination to keep the humble plate of economic bee hoon on the menu of the local hawker scene.