Thursday, May 1, 2014

Havelock Road Block 50 Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles - An Oldie But Goodie

There is a more famous hokkien mee stall residing in ABC Brickworks Food Centre, but we were looking for another stall that is somewhat, more subdued.

It is operated by a 70 plus year old uncle, known only as Mr Seah and it seems he has been doing this for quite some time.

Some of the younger crowd may deem him as moody and quiet, but in actuality, he is anything but.

Yes, he does not talk much and prefers to let the cooking do all the chatter. And yes, on first impression he does seem to be not that jovial.

But once he saw us clicking away with our cameras, and talking about his food, he opened up a bit. Even more so, he invited us to take a couple of shots with him at the wok. So no, he is not that moody after all.

We came because we know that veterans like him may retire anytime. And yet, at his golden age, he still works as hard as anyone in this line. And lucky for us, we get to savor his version of this popular local dish.

Hokkien Mee

The first thing that struck me was the lack of garlic that is more common with other hokkien mee outlets. It could have been a detriment, but instead it allowed us to concentrate more on the actual flavor of the stock and the noodles that were infused with his strong bodied prawn broth.

It was not too wet and thus, there was a greater sense of absorption of flavors into the noodles themselves, which made for a very palatable experience. Every strand of the noodle and bee hoon was well coated and the overall experience was more than satisfying.

The Oldie Goodie

Seeing him cooking his hokkien mee at his age has made me think about how veteran hawkers are still working so hard even today when they should be retiring. The recent talk about allow older Singaporeans continuing to work long after their retirement age has me pondering as well.

Uncles like this one who have worked hard all their life receive little or no recognition. Maybe it's because they work in hawker stalls, and thus escape the limelight of the major press and media. You talk about honoring the pioneers of our country, but haven't folks like this uncle done their fair share as well?

They may not be as well known, but they are a part of the generation that came through our nation building process. As much as I enjoy his plate of noodles, it pains me to see people like them still working so hard when they should be enjoying life instead.

It can be argued that Mr Seah and Sgt Kiang love to work, and need the work to keep their faculties alive. If that is true, I will happily patronize their food in order to support the things they enjoy to do.

To suggest that every 65 year old would want to work after that is to me, a sad reflection on our values and our way of life in Singapore. Yes, some need to work because the cost of living today has gone up and they do not have enough savings whilst others want to work because they need to occupy their time and they simply do not have other pastimes that can keep them as alive.

But I suspect, for many of us, the joy of  life is to be able to take the time to spend with your family and loved ones when one is old (and still alive) and appreciate the things in life you never get to see or do when you were young.

For this hokkien mee stall owner, I do wish he is continuing to do this hawker trade because he enjoys it. Not because he has to work just to pay his bills. There is a subtle but important difference between want and need.

Havelock Rd Blk 50 Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles
ABC Brickworks Food Centre

1 comment:

  1. support. This generation of hawkers has made their mark in our culture. I wonder what will the next generation be