Twenty years ago, Kelly Wong’s father closed his wonton mee shop to focus on manufacturing noodles. In 2013, she decided to pick up where he’d left off, so she walked away from her cushy bank job to open Wong Kee Wanton Noodle at Maxwell Hawker Centre.
While her mother was supportive, her father was less enthusiastic. Kelly had to badger him for months to train her as a cook, as he did not think she was up to the physically exhausting nature of the work. Eventually, he relented. She then spent more months learning to toss the noodles correctly, roast the meat, and make gravy and marinades from scratch.
Today, Kelly runs the show entirely on her own. Many customers return for her comfort food with a twist – Kelly’s unconventional menu (inherited from her father) includes spinach and tomato flavoured noodles, as well as fried chicken cutlets. Her dishes attract mostly young professionals who work in the area, and she sells more than 200 bowls a day.
Noodles have always been a central part of Kelly’s life. From a young age, she knew she wanted to continue her father’s legacy. “I really love cooking noodles. My dad and I treat
it like an art.” She eventually hopes to take over her dad’s noodle manufacturing business.
In 2016, Kelly moved her stall to the trendy Timbre+ to revitalise the brand and draw more millennial customers.
She’s positive that hawkerpreneurs can bring in the crowds if they develop new concepts and market innovatively. For example, she’s trying to grow the stall’s following on Instagram by regularly posting delectable pictures, and ensuring it’s on food delivery apps like Deliveroo. “Brands succeed because they keep improving,” she says.
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