Authentic Chai Chee Bak Chor Mee Opens in MacPherson Lane!

Throughout the years, we have always been talking about how to keep Singapore’s hawker culture alive. Of course, manpower is always the biggest issue here. As our elderly hawkers retire, there are far fewer young people willing to carry on Singapore’s street food tradition. A good example is the recent closure of famous hokkien mee…
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Throughout the years, we have always been talking about how to keep Singapore’s hawker culture alive. Of course, manpower is always the biggest issue here. As our elderly hawkers retire, there are far fewer young people willing to carry on Singapore’s street food tradition. A good example is the recent closure of famous hokkien mee stall Yong Huat. Some hawkers are luckier because their children are willing to quit their jobs to help out at the stalls. And there are other veteran hawkers who prefer to withhold knowledge from the younger generation which means that no one gets to benefits in the end.

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Mention “Bedok Bak Chor Mee” and I am sure what comes to your mind immediately is a soupy bowl of minced meat noodles with meatballs and minced pork. If you are a fan of Bedok-style bak chor mee or have been living in Bedok since childhood, you will probably recognize Mr Tan Poh Chye. His grandfather started the business in 1923 along the streets of Chai Chee and he inherited the trade from his father. This 65-year-old hawker has retired from his original stall Tian Nan Xing Minced Pork Noodle at Blk 511 Bedok North. His son and wife run the stall now.

But there is this saying — once a hawker, always a hawker. Even though Mr Tan has retired for a few years, he is still very much interested in the trade. While he was doing volunteer work, he got to know Mr David Tan who is the owner of this coffeeshop. David has been a fan of his bak chor mee and encouraged him to make a comeback to guide the younger generation. Now, you can enjoy the good old traditional Chai Chee Bak Chor Mee at a coffeeshop in MacPherson Lane!

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As we progress, things change and a lot of things have been lost. For many of us, we probably cannot really understand how much flavours have changed. That’s why we always hear our parents telling us “taste is different already”. Mr Tan shared that they used to cook the soup over charcoal fire. But it is almost impossible to do it now. “I hope, we can still preserve what is being left. If not, the traditional taste will eventually be forgotten.”

While the challenge of scarcity of manpower for succession might not be easily solved, Mr Tan has managed to train a few young and aspiring hawkers to run the stall. “You mostly get to enjoy a soupy bowl of bak chor mee in the East, I hope I can train up more young hawkers to open more stalls around the island.”

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The stall in MacPherson Lane offers the dry and soup version of bak chor mee. A bowl of bak chor mee soup starts from $3 (without meatballs). I recommend  the $4 or $5 portion where you get a combination of meatballs and dumplings floating in a bowl of pork bone broth.

I have eaten at Mr Tan’s original stall for many years. To be honest, I think it is still a work-in-progress in terms of the taste of the soup. Still lacks a bit of oomph, I wish they added more shallot oil into the soup. Their bak giao (meat dumpling) is made in the stall. It is similar to Mr Tan’s original stall’s. Fried sole fish is added to make it more tender & juicy. You can get quite full eating just the dumplings. For those who prefer the dry bak chor mee, it is available from $4 onwards.

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I am really happy that at least the seeds are now being sowed. And I hope Mr Tan continues to share his skills with the younger generation and preserve his tradition. This, is what I consider the continuity of our precious street food culture. Or in Chinese, we called it “传承”.

Authentic Chai Chee Bak Chor Mee

Address: Blk 83 MacPherson Lane #01-263 Singapore 360083.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MeetupSG/

The post Authentic Chai Chee Bak Chor Mee Opens in MacPherson Lane! appeared first on Miss Tam Chiak.

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