5 Comments
Feb 12Liked by Vittles

Really interesting. I lived in Hong Kong for nine years and the government would regularly send in the hygiene police to harass the dai pai dong restaurants, not the same as hawkers but also providing cheap food in informal spaces. There were also the so-called fishball riots over Lunar New Year in 2016 when the police tried to shut down unlicensed stalls in Mong Kok. At the same time as trying to eliminate a lot of this kind of food, the government made a big deal out of trying to get food trucks operating in the tourist areas of Kowloon, with little success. Sadly, now the government can do what it wants having pretty much repressed civil society. It’s so stupid that what they consistently choose to do is to demolish anything old and eliminate everything authentic. Despite its similar governance and the vast and hideous casinos, Macau has hung on to a lot more of its tangible and cultural heritage.

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Fascinating! This is similar to what happened to Chinese hawkers.

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Usually a silent reader but this one really struck a cord with me and touched me deeply. As someone that grew up on $2 chicken rice and $0.50 kopi, our hawker culture is something that I've always taken pride in and championed when hosting international guests. It's something so uniquely Asian and also one of the best things that came from the older policies. While that is evolving, it has been heartbreaking seeing the crazy bidding and auctions of our coffeeshop stalls and the lack of talents taking on the legacy of well-loved hawker stalls since youngsters much prefer working in air-conditioned corporate environments.

While I am huge believer in the betterment of society and constantly improving, just like our forefathers did, this is one of those things I'm sad to see go as time goes by.

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A fascinating read - so good on the economic pressures on hawker centres.

I have fond memories of hawker food from my childhood in Singapore. I remember the open-air car park on Orchard Road would fill up with hawker stalls in the evening. My mum would take me there at night - we would meet up with my cousins and stroll around taking in the sights and smells, choosing what to have. Freshly fried pisang goreng (fried bananas) was one of my favourite snacks.

Let's hope Singapore can find a way of meaningfully retaining what is a much-loved part of its food scene.

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Thanks for writing this - it’s eye opening to read this context on the hawker culture I’ve appreciated on trips to Singapore (where half of my extended family live). I’ve just come back from a trip and it’s stark to compare the availability of quality and affordable food in Singapore to London (where I live) - my cousin just sent me an article about a Singaporean restaurant in London selling bak chor mee for $29SGD. Clearly more has to be done to protect and improve hawker culture so it can continue to be a special part of Singaporean life and so that hawkers can afford a decent standard of living.

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