Sunday 7 July 2013

I've never heard of the 'hawker heroes'? Have you?

This may not come as a shock to you, but I’m a bit blur.

I don’t know a lot of things. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, since there are just too many things in the universe to know.

But I’m troubled when so many people seem to know something that I don’t.

For instance, I didn’t know there’s a Singapore rapper named Shigga Shay.

Do you?

His real name is Pek Jin Shan and I’ve never heard of him either.

But many people must know who he is for his song LimPeh to top the local iTunes chart, outselling singers I've actually heard of like Pink, Lana Del Ray and Justin Timberlake.

How did this happen?

I thought local musicians are only allowed to become famous by joining local rip-offs of Pop Idol like The Final 1 on Channel 5. You can be a star only after Ken Lim say you are.

I also didn’t know there’s such a thing called the Malaysian Super League.

Is this the Malaysian version of the Justice League with superhero members like Cicak Man, Boleh Man, Warna Woman, Green Ketupat and Aaron Aziz?

No, it’s the football league that Singapore’s LionsXII won last Tuesday by beating Felda United.

Needless to say, I’ve never heard of Felda United too. I’ve heard of The Legend Of Zelda though. Does that count?

But I suppose my ignorance of Shigga Shay and Malaysian football is excusable since I’m not a big fan of local music or sports.

Then last week, The New Paper reported the death of “cheng tng hawker icon” Andrew Lim Seng Ann of Ye Lai Xiang Cheng Tng.

Two weeks earlier, The Straits Times had reported that another hawker, Mr Ng Ba Eng of “well-known” wonton noodle stall Eng’s Noodle House, also died.

Before the much-hyped SingTel Hawker Heroes Challenge at Newton Circus Food Centre tonight, a bunch of “hawker heroes” were shortlisted to face British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. They were:
  • Mr Ryan Koh of 328 Katong Laksa
  • Mr Tan Chee Eng of Eng Ho Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee
  • Mr Ang Kiam Meng of Jumbo Seafood Restaurant
  • Madam Jenny Lim of Hai Sheng Carrot Cake
  • Mr Ng Chang Siang of Hill Street Char Kway Teow
  • Madam Betty Kong of Kay Lee Roast Meat Joint
  • Mr Choong Yee Hong of New Lucky Claypot Chicken Rice
  • Mr Teo Aik Cheng of Noo Cheng Adam Road Prawn Mee
  • Madam Gwee Guek Hwa of Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha
  • Mr Malik Hassan of Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak
  • Mr Haji Mohammed and Mr Al Malik Faisal of Sin Ming Roti Prata
  • Madam Foo Kui Lian of Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
Okay, my question is, am I the only person in Singapore who has never heard of any of these hawkers (dead or alive) or their stalls?

Well, except Jumbo Seafood Restaurant.

But then the Jumbo Seafood Restaurant guy can’t really be called a hawker since, as the name suggests, Jumbo Seafood Restaurant is a restaurant and not a hawker stall.

And it’s not just a restuarant, but a chain of restaurants. You might as well call Ronald McDonald a hawker.

I can’t wait to see how Ramsay will react when he finds out. I hope the host of The F Word uses the name of his show.

I know I get confused by another F word whenever someone describes some food stall at such and such place as “famous”.

How can something be famous if I’ve never heard of it?

Granted, I’m not KF Seetoh or a “foodie”. But if you have to be KF Seetoh or a “foodie” to have heard of the food stall, then how famous can it be?

Granted, I’m also a bit blur, but... actually, I have no argument for that.

Just because a food stall is featured in Makansutra, in a newspaper or magazine article, or in one of the gazillion food shows on TV doesn’t necessarily make it famous.

It’s only “famous” to the people who happened to see Makansutra, the article or the TV show.

But one thing’s for sure. After tonight’s SingTel Hawker Heroes Challenge with Ramsay, the stalls (and one restaurant chain) of the three “hawker heroes” chosen to face him — Tian Tian Chicken Rice, 328 Katong Laksa and Jumbo Seafood — can be legitimately called famous.

Even I have heard of them.

They couldn’t be more well-known if Shigga Shay had rapped about them.

Now if only someone could arrange a face-off between Ramsay and Ken Lim, that could be more exciting than a Malaysian Super League match.

SingTel boleh?

- Published in The New Paper, 7 July 2013