Celebrity Hawker: Hill Street Fried Kway Teow
Featured Dish: Char Kway Teow
You may not expect this sleepy neighborhood in Bedok to house one of Makansutra’s Hawker Legends, but it does. The way Mr Ng Chang Siang prepares the food is a sight to behold. Wielding his ladle in his right hand and his chopsticks in his left, his whole body moves as he fries, as if to some unknown beat. His fleeting thrusts and lightning flips resemble skills belonging to a kungfu master. Before long, a plate of char kway teow arrives at our table. We level our chopsticks and prepare to dig in.
Hill Street Fried Kway Teow helmed by Mr Ng Chang Siang and his sister Ms Ng Kim Moi
Char Kway Teow is flat rice noodles fried with Chinese sausage, crispy pork and blood cockles, or si ham as we call it. Acknowledged by some as “The Best Char Kway Teow in Singapore”, Hill Street Fried Kway Teow originated in Wayang (Teochew) Street, where Mr Ng’s father set up a stall for almost 30 years. They subsequently relocated to Hill Street, where they set up a stall for more than 10 years, before moving to their current premises at Bedok South Road Food Centre, where they have been satisfying the cravings of foodies for 12 years and counting. Loyal customers have been eating the Ngs’ char kway teow since they were young, following them from one location to the next!
As we all know, the frying technique of the hawker is what makes or breaks a dish of char kway teow. However, foodies can rest assured, for Mr Ng Chang Siang’s hands come with at least 48 years of experience. Overseas Singaporeans who will be at Singapore Day 2012 in New York, you couldn’t ask for a more proficient chef to stir fry and serve up this local delight!
The Ngs are extremely excited that Hill Street Fried Kway Teow has been chosen to present and represent this dish at Singapore Day for the third time at Singapore Day; their maiden outing was in London at Singapore Day 2009. What makes their char kway teow special is the generous serving of chives and bean sprouts, and of course their special sweet black sauce which has undergone a bit of modification.
While Mr Ng was busy whipping up a new plate for customers, we spoke to Mr Ng’s sister, Ms Ng Kim Moi. She says that any Singaporean who has lived in Singapore and eaten Singapore’s char kway teow will definitely like their char kway teow!
The brother-sister duo behind possibly the island’s best char kway teow
When asked about her expectations of Singapore Day, Ms Ng says she only wants to be able to serve up a good plate of char kway teow for Overseas Singaporeans. Their passion for cooking and putting a smile on their customers’ faces clearly shines through. I can almost hear a chorus of “Shiok ah!” after Singaporeans in New York have their fill.
A common concern among the celebrity hawkers is that our culinary tradition will slowly disappear as the succeeding generation is less willing to brave the heat of the kitchen and to continue their parents’ business, but there is hope for the Ng family. Mr Ng’s son is currently training to take over from his father, slowly but surely acquiring the skills needed to master the dish.
Through the looking glass: Check out the accolades!
My rambling has distracted me from the main attraction – the piping-hot plate of char kway teow before me. The pieces of lard that are oft-missed elsewhere, the satisfying crunch of the bean sprouts and chives, the juicy si ham that recall the taste of the sea, and of course, the unmistakable wok hei that is achieved by true practitioners of Chinese frying! This is indeed one food experience to remember. Although char kway teow often comes with a high-cholesterol warning, a plate of Hill Street Char Kway Teow is definitely worth the calories. Something this good cannot be missed.
Look out for the Ngs as they set up stall at Singapore Day 2012 in New York this April. If not, here’s where to head to when you’re next back home.
By Kylie Goh
Hill Street Fried Kway Teow
Blk 16, Bedok South Road, #01-187, Singapore 460016
Open for lunch till 7pm, or until he runs out of food. Closed on Mondays.