LI RUIFANG, 31
She sells hundreds of bowls of piping hot prawn noodles a day.
Affectionately known to friends as hei mee soh (“prawn mee auntie” in Hokkien), this third-generation hawker serves prawn noodles at Tekka Food Centre – just look for 545 Whampoa Prawn Noodles (#01-326) and you’ll find her.
Ruifang shares: “My grandfather used to cook and sell prawn noodles in the Whampoa area in the 1950s. My dad took over in the 1970s and then I did in 2014. I’ve been helping out at the stall since I was in primary school – so yes, I ate a lot of prawn noodles growing up!
“I gave up my job (at an MNC) to become a hawker because I felt it was a pity to let the family recipe and business end with my dad’s generation. I’ve seen many of my favourite food stalls disappear over the years because there’s no one to take over the business, and I didn’t want the same thing to happen to us.
“It’s hard work, though. I’m up at 3am every day – I need to wash the prawns, slice and cook the pork, brew the broth and pre-cook the vermicelli, all before I open the stall at 6.30am. And then there’s the cleaning up after the stall closes (between 1pm and 3pm), and the preparation of ingredients for the next day, which takes about two hours.
“The most painful part of my job? Getting scalded by hot water and soup, and cutting my fingers while peeling prawns. And I smell of them – constantly!”
Watch Ruifang share more about what it’s like to run a hawker stall in the video below.
PHOTOGRAPHY: WINSTON CHUANG, STYLING: EVON CHNG, HAIR: BENEDICT CHOO, MAKEUP: AMY CHOW, USING MAKEUP FOR EVER, blazer from The Kooples/Robinsons, shirt from Greyhound/Robinsons, shorts are Ruifang’s own
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