Singapore food centre Urban Hawker opens in New York
NEW YORK – Singapore food centre Urban Hawker soft opened in New York on Wednesday.
Located at 135 W. 50th Street, near Times Square in Manhattan, it boasts 17 vendors, of which 11 come directly from Singapore. The vendors are curated by Mr KF Seetoh, founder of Makansutra, a Singapore-based company dedicated to celebrating and promoting heritage street food culture worldwide.
They include names like Wok & Staple by heritage Chinese restaurant Dragon Phoenix, and White Restaurant, which is known for originating Sembawang’s famous white beehoon. Hawkers include Ashes Burnnit, a halal burger chain that started in Golden Mile Food Centre, and Prawnaholic Collections, a prawn noodle stall in Pasir Ris.
There is also Daisy’s Dream by Madam Daisy Tan, which serves Peranakan dishes like curry chicken, laksa and nasi lemak. It is run by her son Roy and her daughter, actress Selena Tan, is a co-owner.
The food centre, which will officially open on Sept 28, is a partnership between Mr Seetoh and Urbanspace, which operates multiple food halls in the United States. The 14,000 sq ft space has a seating capacity of 200.
Mr Seetoh said they conceived the project in 2019, but the idea was first germinated by him and late American celebrity chef Anthony Bourdan in 2013. Bourdain had reportedly wanted to open a Singapore-style hawker food hall at New York’s Pier 57, but failed to sign a lease for the location before he died in 2018.
The biggest challenge, he added, in setting up Urban Hawker was “finding and sieving the brave hawkers among those who indicated interest” in expanding to the United States.
“And, of course, meandering through dozens of licences, permits, visas and officialdom just to sell that first platter.”
Mr Victor Tay, White Restaurant’s chairman, told The Straits Times he is excited to be part of Urban Hawker: “It is our pride to serve our first plate of white beehoon outside Singapore and especially in Manhattan. We are so proud to be the flag bearer of an authentically Singapore product, the original white beehoon.”