All hawker centres in Singapore for that matter.
Just as I was down about inflation and feeling that the one affordable thing we have left is hawker food, I read about the possible privatisation of hawker centres. Oh the horror!
In Singapore, the equivalent of Anthony Bourdain, is K F Seetoh, and he pipes in about this at the Yahoo Singapore Blog. Although didn’t he start off the trend by establishing Food Republic – a private food court chain? At the Makansutra forum it was stated that Food Republic was his brainchild, but he made a business decision to pull out and Bread Talk is now running it.
I must say I have no issue with a few of these outlets, but their prices are double that of what you find in the hawker centre and the quality is not as good. Hawker food is not meant to be eaten in an air-conditioned environment. It’s meant to be eaten hot of the pan.
Here’s an extract of the article.
First it was all about bold pricing strategies, which is actually the simple act of raising hawker food prices through the roof. Now, it’s about the prospect of privatising hawker centres, which can lead to the same effect. Imagine, the audacity of charging $17 for a bowl of laksa in a food court, as recently reported. Sheesh! Now, a question mark hangs over the fate of the iconic Bedok bus terminal hawker centre as town keepers and private property players entertain the thought of privatising it.
We’ve come a long way since the wild old days when then Governor F. Gimson in the 50’s declared in his Hawker Enquiry Report that “there is undeniably a disposition among officials to regard the hawkers as primarily a public nuisance to be removed from the streets.”…..
Hawker centres were eventually set up to house the relocated itinerant street hawkers. There were already 24,000 of them in the 60s. Today, there are over 100 public hawker centres that have become makan institutions that feed the masses. It is also listed in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die which declared “Even Hong Kong runs a distant second”, when it came to gastronomy culture……
My mum and aunts recall fondly, the Singapore street hawkers in the 60’s and earlier. The street hawkers even sold noodles on their bicycles, so that when you were hungry you could just wave them down and order a bowl. My mum referred to the man who came by her home as the Tock Tock man as he used to beat two wooden implements together to alert you that he was coming just like the ice cream man would ring his bell. I am sad that I did not get a chance to experience that. Today you can get a glimpse of it at the Singapore History museum. I hope this is not the fate that awaits our hawker centers.