Photo: NTUC Foodfare

Singapore's newest hawker centre will combine traditional food stalls with "modern cuisine", to blend in with the trendy hipster dining culture and draw in new-generation hawkers. The hawker centre, to open in Pasir Ris Central in November, will "inject new energy to the local street food scene", said a statement by NTUC Foodfare on Wednesday (Sept 6). A spokesman for NTUC Foodfare added that it might be the first hawker centre in Singapore to have a dual concept where traditional food and modern "hipster" cuisine are served in the same space.

 

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Photo: NTUC Foodfare

It is the third new hawker centre to be managed by NTUC Foodfare, after Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre and Market, and Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre. The hawker centre will have two levels. The ground floor offers traditional hawker fare, with 20 cooked food stalls that provide local "comfort food", such as chicken rice and wonton mee. Head upstairs and visitors will find themselves in a space that resembles a trendy cafe. This area, called the Fareground, will be designed with a "hipster food market vibe", said NTUC Foodfare. The floor will house 22 stalls selling casual cooked street food and allow new-generation hawkers to offer their own creative cuisines and innovative food concepts.

Generally, contemporary "hipster" cuisines may be fusion food or local food with a twist. Examples include Japanese don bowls and French fusion cuisine. Events such as art markets, craft fairs and music gigs will also take place at the Fareground to cultivate a vibrant atmosphere for diners.

Photo: NTUC Foodfare

A spokesman said that they hope to attract new-generation hawkers to one place to ply their trade in an environment that appeals to them. "This is also a way of keeping the hawker centre culture alive among the younger generation," she added. "It will not just be a place for people to eat and leave like a typical hawker centre, but it will be a social space for people to gather together."

New-generation hawkers and cafe owners said that the new hawker centre does appeal to them. Mr Joey Lim, 30, who owns cafe Builders at Sims, said the hawker centre will be the best of both worlds for customers and provide the business needed for new stall owners. "For start-up businesses, it is a safer venture than opening an actual cafe," he said. "There will surely be good traffic and the uniqueness of it will draw the crowd."

 

 

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Chef Tan Jun Ann, 34, said that the Pasir Ris area has a younger demographic that will come to such a hawker centre. He co-owns The Skewer Bar, which operates in a coffee shop in Geylang. "It will attract customers because there might not be service charge and people feel more comfortable and relaxed in a casual setting, rather than in a restaurant or actual cafe."

Other features at the new hawker centre include cashless payment options, a food waste management system and a family dining area with child-friendly tables and chairs. Diners have to return their own trays and used crockery. NTUC Foodfare also said that each stall will offer at least two "budget meals", in line with its aim of offering residents affordable and quality cooked food. A budget meal on the ground floor will be $2.80 and below, but the budget meal price for the upper floor will vary depending on what kind of food is being offered. Healthier meals will also be made widely available. Each stall will provide at least one Healthier Choice meal which is under 500 calories, as certified by Health Promotion Board (HPB). All hawkers must also use healthier oil in their dishes.

The new hawker centre will have a seating capacity of about 770. It will be open from 7am to 10.30pm daily. Singaporeans and permanent residents who are interested in applying for stalls there can purchase the application form at $10 from Sept 11 to 22, between 9am and 5pm, on weekdays. They can obtain the forms from Foodfare at Downtown East, Pasir Ris Elias Community Club or Pasir Ris East Community Club.

Completed forms have to be submitted by Sept 22 at the Foodfare at Downtown East.

 

This article was first published at The Straits Times, 6 September 2017.

 

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