S'pore-style ramen, down to a science
AMONG the numerous hawker stalls at Amoy Street Food Centre is one born of a modern concept: Utilising scientific techniques to make Singapore-style ramen.
A Noodle Story is the brainchild of Mr Gwern Khoo, 32, and Mr Ben Tham, 31, who decided to fuse Japanese ramen and Hong Kong-style wonton noodles into one dish.
The end result is a dish with Chinese egg noodles accompanied with Japanese-style pork cha-su and hot-spring egg, as well as Hong Kong-style wonton and potato-wrapped prawn. Each bowl is served with pork broth.
It's not just the dish that's unique, but the way it is cooked: An immersion circulator - a type of laboratory equipment - is used for precision cooking of the pork cha-su and egg.
The two culinary-arts graduates from the Shatec Institutes told My Paper that they realised the hawker business here was stagnating, as older-generation hawkers were retiring.
Mr Khoo said he wanted to maintain the Singapore hawker culture and revive it before it is rendered obsolete by cafes and fast-food outlets.
"We don't want to outsource our (hawker jobs) to foreigners," he added.
He explained that he chose to set up the business in the Central Business District to target the workers, who are relatively "more open to new ideas and concepts".
According to him, customers have been very receptive to the idea.
"We want to make gourmet- quality food easily available to common people," said Mr Khoo, who is determined to remain in a hawker-centre setting to keep prices affordable.
He began his culinary journey with some of Singapore's top restaurants, such as Iggys, which was ranked 26th on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list last year. He was also a finalist in the World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence Scholarships in 2008.
Mr Tham was previously with LeVeL33 at Marina Bay Financial Centre. He was also a gold-medal winner in the Hot Present Cold category of the Food Hotel Asia competition in 2009.
The duo start preparing in the kitchen as early as 7.30am on Monday mornings and 9am from Tuesdays to Fridays, and leave their stall only at 8.30pm every day.
Mr Khoo mentioned that their average 12-hour-per-day work week is "indeed tiring".
"Quite often, we are so busy that we have our first meal only at 4pm," he added.
Despite the long hours, Mr Khoo said that they do not intend to hire staff. However, they intend to expand the business into a franchise in the future.
"It's more of an expansion through a few different innovative hawker concepts," Mr Khoo said.
"After which, we will see which concept is the most popular and has the highest potential for growth through a franchise," he added, revealing that a reinvented version of chicken rice is an upcoming creation.