Kim’s Famous Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee hawker dies at 78, Latest Makan News - The New Paper

Kim’s Famous Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee hawker dies at 78

Mr Tan Kue Kim, the “Rolex Mee Master” of Kim’s Famous Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee, died on Feb 14 at the age of 78. 

Mr Melvin Chew, a fellow hawker and the founder of Facebook group Hawkers United – Dabao 2020, broke the news on the platform on the afternoon of Feb 15. He also included details of the wake in the comments section.

According to Mr Tan’s eldest son, Mr Tan Fu Rong, the late hawker died of a sudden heart attack.

He told The Straits Times at the wake in Eunos that his father had been feeling uncomfortable since the Chinese New Year weekend, suffering from a lack of appetite and bloated stomach.

Still, his death came as a shock. “The sudden loss of my dad is very sad. We were quite close and I’m not quite used to it,” says the 52-year-old, who has two younger siblings.

Mr Tan Kue Kim also leaves behind his wife and four grandchildren.

He first learnt how to fry Hokkien mee in the 1960s under the tutelage of his elder cousin. In 1971, he set up his own stall in Changi Road. 

He rose to fame in the 1980s, partly on account of his flamboyant sense of style – he was known to fry Hokkien mee while donning a Rolex watch and long-sleeved shirt. 

He told Chinese-language newspaper Shin Min Daily News in September 2023 that in the 1970s, many people valued white-collar occupations, such as secretaries, more highly than blue-collar jobs such as cooks.

So, starting in the 1980s, he decided to wear long-sleeved shirts and branded watches despite his vocation. 

“As long as you are dedicated to making delicious food, you will not feel hot even if you are wearing a long-sleeved shirt and cooking noodles in the kitchen.”

With the boost to business, he established his own eating house in Changi in 1986, serving dishes such as sambal kangkong, black pepper crab, claypot abalone Hokkien mee and fish maw soup, in addition to his original Hokkien mee.

In 1989, he bought a building in Geylang, which he ran as a seafood restaurant. However, diners did not bite, and in 1996, he cut his losses and set up a stall in Ang Mo Kio Central.

In 2002, he shifted to the 62B Jalan Eunos coffee shop his stall is currently located at. Along the way, new dishes were invented, including his now-famous oyster Hokkien mee. 

The accolades flowed in too: Kim’s Famous Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee was included in the Top 50 World Street Food Masters list by Singapore food critic K.F. Seetoh’s World Street Food Congress in 2017.

But the question of who will now take over the business is still up in the air. Mr Tan Fu Rong joined the trade in 1996 and now runs his own seafood eatery in East Coast Road. 

However, in September 2023, Shin Min Daily News reported that the elder Mr Tan was looking for a successor, as he believed that his son had not learnt enough.

The younger Mr Tan says his father’s search was ultimately unsuccessful due to his strict terms, adding that the family will discuss what to do with his stall after the funeral on Feb 19.

Regardless of who or what comes next, fans and foodies say Mr Tan Kue Kim and his signature lard-laden, wok hei-infused Hokkien mee will be missed.