Young agents for curry, Latest Others News - The New Paper

Young agents for curry

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The first thing I noticed in their tiny kitchen was the Robot Coupe blender.

Normally, you will find this heavy-duty blender in top-flight commercial kitchens rather than in hawker centre stalls.

It means these folks blend their own rempah for their chicken curry.

They opened the stall earlier this week and what caught my eye was the young couple behind this small food outlet.

Mr Lim Kim Bak, 26, is the chef and brains behind the kitchen and his petite wife Eunice Oh, 25, handles the stall front - in other words, she's the waiter.

Mr Lim's former property business partner Nicholas Pang, 32, is also in on the act and helps to take orders.

I just had to meet these new-generation street food soldiers.

Says Mr Lim (whose nickname is Bok, hence the stall name): "The property business slowed down so much that we had to think of other survival options."

He took only a month to jump headlong into the street food business.

"It's my auntie's recipe," he confesses.

"But I have had to modify to suit customers' taste."

His initial fears were on handling the crowd and maintaining quality and speed.

For the first day of business, he ordered about 100 pieces of fresh whole chicken legs and they managed to clear 70 of them. When I visited again the next day, they had already sold all 100 orders by 2.30pm.

"It is very encouraging," says Mr Pang.

The curry, which comes with rice or toasted bread (which I prefer), was calibrated just right for the Chinatown crowd and regulars.

I felt the rempah was nicely balanced on its own, with no overarching accents of any spices.

Yes, there are the occasional visiting foodies who have expressed that they would like the curry richer (that is, with coconut milk) and spicier.

To this, Mr Lim says: "That is a balance we are trying to achieve and we will get there soon."

He admits that his daily work routine - he is at the stall each day by 4am to start preparations and he finishes up only at about 3pm - is tough.

"But I like the job, so no complaints for now," he says.

His wife is not having it any easier too.

She prepares and sends her three children, from aged three to five, for school and nursery each morning before she heads to the stall by late morning to handle the lunch crowd.

One thing they need to work on though, is their baked cheese curry rice.

While the flavours are intact and portion generous with chicken chunks, the dull brown colour should be lifted with cauliflower or broccoli with red capsicums and carrots for added texture, sweetness and colour. Or perhaps some sayur lodeh (vegetables in coconut gravy) could be added.

But it's still early days.

Frankly, I doubt they will have any problems shifting 150 pieces of chicken a day eventually.

In fact, 200 is more realistic.

WHERE: Bokky Curry #01-67, Hong Lim Food Centre

10am to 3pm daily 
(for now)