Monday 25 October 2021

ITE College West canteen needs support, so I ordered the cheese balls (among other things)

The Internet is not all bad.

Yes, even Facebook. (Or whatever it’s changing its name to)

Two weeks ago, someone named Wendy Choo posted an appeal in Facebook group Hawkers United - Dabao 2020.

It read:
“For ppl who are staying/ working near to CCK ITE West College ...

“U can visit the canteen located in the school.

“Business had been badly affected as students are mainly having HBL (home-based learning).

“They served a variety of food. Stall owners are barely making to cover the rental...

“Do help to support them if you are around that area.”
The post went viral, having been shared over 4,000 times and was reported by AsiaOne,, and

I first saw the post in the Friends Of Yew Tee Facebook group.

I am in the Friends of Yew Tee Facebook group because, well, I live in Yew Tee, which is near enough to the ITE College West campus that I feel I should try to help out by grabbing a meal there even though it is a bit out of the way.

If you don’t drive, you can get there by taking the train to Teck Whye LRT station. That is two MRT and three LRT stations away from my place.

I decided to make the trip last Friday afternoon with my wife.

At the ITE campus SafeEntry check-in point, I asked the security guard where the canteen was. He told me to turn right and there it was.

At the canteen entrance, there was a big sign that said: “Food court open to public.”

The problem is that the location of the sign is such that not many members of the public can actually see it.

The food court was brightly lit and spacious with tables arranged far apart due to Covid-19 safety measures.

There weren’t many people eating there, but then it was almost 2pm, a little after lunchtime. I saw a few students in uniform and diners who didn’t look like students.

Of the 18 food stalls, only 10 were open. The vegetarian food stall seemed open, but the guy behind it gave me the international hand gesture for “no more food”.

I was intrigued by a stall called Australian Delights, but it looked like it had closed down for good. Did it sell BBQ kangaroo fillet or something?

So I ordered a $2 roti john from the Malay Cuisine stall, but when I found out it contained sardines, my wife didn’t allow me to eat it because of my gout. She ate it instead.

In the end, I had the spaghetti alfredo with grilled fish (not sardine) from the pasta stall. It was only $4, but I added two fried cheese balls for another $1.50 because, you know, I wanted to support the place.

I regretted the balls. It was all a bit too rich for my blood. I was feeling kind of bloated afterwards.

Including a $1.20 iced Milo and a $1 iced tea-O (no straws) for my wife and me, I spent less than $10 on lunch for both of us.

I felt like a hero, having done my good deed for the day.

Then I went home and found out that some local YouTuber named Zermatt Neo had posted a video about spending over $50 buying items from every stall in the ITE College West food court, including the roti john, pasta, fried rice, chicken rice, hot plate, fishball noodles and waffles.

The waffle stall was closed when I was there, damn it.

But he didn’t get the cheese balls.

Anyway, this is not a competition. It is not about who spends more money in the food court and is therefore the bigger hero. Am I right?

It is about supporting the stall owners.

The woman who sold me the roti john told me that thanks to the viral post, more people were eating at the food court.

She said that previously, members of the public were “scared” to go there because they didn’t know the food court was open to the public.

Well, I certainly wouldn’t have gone there if not for the viral post. And that over-eating yet inexplicably not overweight YouTuber too.

So the Internet is not just for spreading misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines and alleged sex videos of Night Owl Cinematics co-founder Sylvia Chan.

It can do some good too.

Unlike those cheese balls.

- Published in The New Paper, 25 October 2021