China Street Fritters at Maxwell Food Centre is famous for its ngoh hiang fritters. The hawker, 62-year-old Huang Guo Hua, currently manages the business with his wife and brothers. The stall has been in business for about 60 years, Mr Huang having taken over what his father started.
Now he wants to sell the business and retire in March 2022, reports Shin Min Daily News (SMDN).
Mr Huang told the Chinese paper that he was 16 when he started working at China Street Fritters with his sibling. He thinks it’s time for him to retire, reported mothership.sg.
“We work about 10 hours every day, with almost no rest days in a year. It’s very taxing on the body,” Mr Huang admitted.
“Now that we’re old, we aren’t as strong physically. We can’t work even if we want to. We have feet ailments from standing too long, our kneecaps also hurt. We have to seek traditional and Western medical treatment often.”
Mr Huang’s family decided to sell their heritage fritter recipe for S$1 million.
Although it may seem like a steep price, Mr Huang explained that China Street Fritters had built a stable clientele over the decades. If the new owners maintain the standards, Mr Huang believes a return on investment is possible within three years.
“The most important thing is to maintain the standard of the food. With our current volume of sales, it is possible to recoup the money in three years,” said Mr Huang.
“We only operate one hawker stall, and for many years, did not increase our prices. If the new owners are willing to consider expanding the business, it will definitely do well.”
Mr Huang is hoping to find a prospect who is passionate about the food and beverage industry. He does not plan to hand over the family legacy to someone who will sublet the operations to another person.
The hawker explained his three children, currently in the aviation, insurance and banking industries, have no interest in becoming hawkers. Still, he wishes to pass down his father’s recipe so that people could continue to savour his legacy.
Their stall has been featured in food blogs frequently. Hungrygowhere Singapore’s blog noted China Street Fritters is one of the last two Hokkien ngoh hiang stalls in Singapore, while one Ignatius Roger Kheng mentioned in a Google review that he never walks away from Maxwell Street without eating from the stall. “Value for money and authentic taste. Hard to find such these days,” he added.
Other sites have noted that traditional hand-made ngoh hiang is a rare find these days. “Most of the stalls that sell ngoh hiang have modified the original recipes and are using machines to churn out these treats,” wrote blogger Miss Tam Chiak in her feature on Mr Huang’s stall. “The owners follow and preserve time-tested recipes which have been passed down through generations.” /TISG
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