Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hawker centre

A hawker centre or ''food centre'' is the name given to open-air complexes in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore housing many stalls that sell a variety of food. They are typically found near public housing estates or transport hubs .

Hawker centres sprung up in areas following the rapid in the 1950s and 1960s. In many cases, they were built partly to address the problem of unhygienic food preparation by unlicensed street hawkers. More recently, they have become less ubiquitous due to growing affluence in the urban populations of Malaysia and Singapore. Particularly in Singapore, they are increasingly being replaced by food courts, which are indoor, versions of hawker centres located in shopping malls and other commercial venues.

In the 1950s and 1960s, hawker centres were considered to be a venue for the less affluent. They had a reputation for food, partly due to the frequent appearance of stray domestic pets and s. Many hawker centres were poorly managed by their operators, often lacking and proper facilities for cleaning. More recently, hygiene standards have improved, with pressure from the local authorities. This includes the implementation of licensing requirements, where a sufficient standard of hygiene is required for the stall to operate, and rewarding exceptionally good hygiene. Upgrading or reconstruction of hawker centres was initiated in the late 1990s in Singapore. At the same time, hawker centres were renamed food centres.

The hawker centres in Singapore are owned by three government bodies, namely the National Environment Agency under the parent Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources , Housing and Development Board and JTC Corporation. All the centres, in turn, are managed by NEA.

In Hong Kong, hawker centres are located in market complexes of residential districts, stalls from hawker centres are converted from Dai Pai Dong by strict regulations and management, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department manages hawker centres in Hong Kong.

Notable hawker centres

The following lists some of the more notable hawker centre in Singapore:


*Adam Road Food Centre
*Alexandra Road Hawker Centre
*Amoy Street Food Centre
*Bedok Central
*Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre
*Changi Village Food Centre
*Chinatown Complex
*Chomp Chomp Food Centre
*East Coast Park Food Centre
*East Coast Seafood Centre
*Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre
*Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre
*Glutton's Square
*Golden Mile Food Centre
*Golden Shoe Hawker Centre
*Hong Lim Complex
*Lau Pa Sat
*Maxwell Food Centre
*Newton Food Centre
*Old Airport Cooked Food Centre
*People's Park Food Centre
*Satay Club
*Seah Im Food Centre
*Shunfu Mart
*Tanjong Pagar Plaza
*Tekka Centre
*Tiong Bahru Food Centre
*Whampoa Food Centre

Haw flakes

Haw flakes are sweets made from the fruit of the . The dark pink candy is packaged using twenty-two one millimeter-thick candy discs and sold in packs of ten. They are also frequently given away after a consultation with a .


Haw flakes are manufactured in China and are available in many parts of Asia. In Hong Kong they have been available since the 1970s. There has been virtually no change in the recipe or taste from the original version. By far the largest seller of haw flakes is the Shandong Foodstuffs Import & Export Corporation of Qingdao, Shandong, . Exported packages are manufactured by the Qingzhou Jiahe Food Corporation company . The snack is available in some Chinatowns.


Gourmet haw flakes are also available at specialty Chinese markets. Gourmet haw flakes tend to be larger than the Shandong haw flakes


Haw flakes have been seized on several occasions by the United States Food and Drug Administration for containing Ponceau 4R , an unapproved ing.

Fish slice

Fish slice or Fish fillet is a commonly cooked food in southern China and overseas Chinese communities. As the name suggests, the fillet is made of fish that has been finely pulverized. It is made of the same Surimi used to make fishball.


When production is finished, the fish usually comes in a large frozen rectangular fillet. Prior to cooking, the large rectangular fish mold must be and cut into smaller slices.

Hong Kong

Fish slices are often used in Chinese cuisine, especially in noodle dishes. It is commonly found in dai pai dong, perhaps the most popular of fish slices is mixing fishball or wonton noodles.

Another usage in home cooking is to combine it with soft vegetables like cabbage, bean sprouts. Meats like pork are also sometimes used for plate-dishes.

Dried shredded squid

Dried shredded squid is a dried, seasoned snack commonly found in coastal countries, as well as Hawai'i. It is also referred to as ''"Shredded Squid"'', ''"Dried Seasoned Squid"'', ''"Prepared Rolled Squid"'' or ''"Sun Dried Squid"''. It should not be confused with regular dried squid found in the Philippines. The squid is also interchangeable with cuttlefish, so that the name is ''"Dried Shredded Cuttlefish"''.

History and origins

Historically, squid is common in coastal regions of and Southeast Asia. The food has always been referred to by the native language name. Only after the packaged form began shipping to English speaking regions, did the translated English-language name "dried shredded squid" get imprinted on packages. The snack was already popularized, sold and consumed regularly in Hong Kong during the 1970s. Shredded squid began being sold in Macau as an addition to their almond biscuit. Hong Kong has also imported several brands from Japan and Taiwan, which are better adapted for mass production of this item. In Japan, it is called ''surume'' and popularly served as an ''otsumami'', a snack consumed while drinking alcohol. In Korean cuisine, dried shredded squid is eaten as '''' , and as ''banchan'' such as ''ojingeochae bokkeum'' , which is made by stir-frying shredded dried squid seasoned with a mixture of gochujang , garlics, and ''mulyeot'' .


Northern Pacific Squid is separated into different parts and skinned, cooked at 65-80C for 3-5 minutes, cooled, grated and seasoned at a temperature below 20C for more than 4 hours. Sugar, salt, sorbitol, sweetener, and organic acid is added. They are then dried at 40-45C for 12-20 hours until it reaches a moisture level of 40%. It is then aged in a cold room for 2 weeks or longer, then dried at a higher temperature of 110-120C for 3-5 minutes If consumed in large quantities, it can be detrimental to health. The main attraction is that the snack is loaded with MSG, salt and other flavoring. The food is famous for making consumers thirsty.

Deuk Deuk Tong

Deuk Deuk Tong or commonly referred to as Ding Ding Tong is a type of traditional candy in Hong Kong. It is a hard maltose candy with sesame and ginger flavours. The sweet is made by first melting maltose, then adding to it various ingredients and continuously stirring the mixture. Before the mixture solidifies, it is put on a metal stick and pulled into a line shape, then coiled into the shape of a plate.

In Cantonese, ''deuk'' means chiselling, breaking things into pieces. When sold the candy, it was necessary for them to break apart its original shape with a pair flat chisels, namely "deuk". Chiselling makes noise and attracts children to buy. ''Deuk Deuk Tong'' was thus named . Today, in order to cater to young people's tastes, different flavours of ''Deuk Deuk Tong'' are also made, including coconut, chocolate, mango, banana, and strawberry flavours.

Dai pai dong

Dai pai dong is a type of open-air food stall once very popular in Hong Kong. The government registration name in Hong Kong is "cooked-food stalls".


Dai pai dong is characterised by its green-painted steel kitchen, untidy atmosphere, the lack of air conditioning, as well as a variety of low priced great-wok hei dishes. Regarded by some as part of the collective memory of Hong Kong people , genuine ''dai pai dongs'' are scarce today, numbering only 28, situated in , Sham Shui Po , Wan Chai , Tai Hang , and Tai O .

Although the term ''dai pai dong'' is often used generically to refer to any food stall operating on the roadside with foldable tables, chairs and no air-conditioning . Legally speaking the term can only refer to those 28 stalls which possess the "big licenses".


Unlicensed food stalls, which provided cheap everyday food such as , rice and noodles to the general public of humble income, appeared in as early as the late 19th century in Hong Kong. The stalls could be found not only in Central, but also in Wanchai and the peripheries of Happy Valley Racecourse around Wong Nai Chung Road. In fact, the great fire at the racecourse in 1918 was caused by food stalls set beside the podium. There were also stalls assembled by piers, which formed the so-called ''Waisik Matau'' , to serve ferry passengers.

After World War II came to an end in 1945, the colonial Hong Kong government issued ''ad hoc'' licenses to families of deceased and injured civil servants, allowing them to operate food stalls in public and thereby earn a living. This kind of license was considerably larger than the ones normally issued, as a photograph of the licensee was required to appear on them. The license, therefore, was jocularly called "''dai pai''" by the locals. From then on, the "big license stalls" began to flourish on every busy street and lane in Hong Kong.

However, ''dai pai dongs'' soon became the cause of traffic congestion and hygiene problems, and some licensees even began to let out their stalls on the black market. In response, the government stopped issuing new "big licenses" in 1956, and limited their transfer. The licenses could no longer be inherited, and could only be passed on to spouses upon the licensee's death. If the licensee did not have a spouse, the license would simply expire.

Since 1975, many ''dai pai dongs'' have been moved into temporary markets, like the ones on Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, or into cooked food centres, usually located in municipal services complexes managed by the Urban Council, for easier control. In order to improve worsening public hygiene, the government began to buy back "big licences" from the licence-holders in 1983. Since most of the licensees were aged, and the licenses are only legally transferable to their spouses, many of the licensees were willing to return their licenses for compensation. Since then, the number of traditional ''dai pai dongs'' has declined rapidly.

Today, most ''dai pai dongs'' survive by operating in cooked food centres, while the more successful ones have reinvented themselves as air-conditioned restaurants .

It was reported that revenues of ''dai pai dongs'' increased considerably in 2003 when Hong Kong was plagued by SARS; as people regarded air-conditioned places as hotbeds of the virus and patronised open-air and sun-lit stalls instead.

Features of ''dai pai dongs''

*One can order tailor-made dishes.
*It is customary to have to share tables with complete strangers when there is a shortage of seating.
*Unlike ''cha chaan tengs'', most ''dai pai dongs'' do not provide set meals.
*"Cross-stall ordering" is possible: for instance, when one is sitting and eating in a stall selling noodles, he or she can order a cup of milk tea from another stall, which may be several stalls away.
*The stalls can be roughly divided into those operating in daytime and those doing business at night. The ''dai pai dongs'' which operate at night usually sell seafood and other more costly dishes: one dish usually costs from HKD$ 40-70. The day-time ''dai pai dongs'', on the contrary, provide cheap food including:
** and youtiao ;
**, toasts, sandwiches and instant noodles with ham, , or sausage;
**rice or noodles with siu mei ;
**fried rice and ''dip tau fan'' ;
**Chiuchow-style noodles .


In May 2005, the existence of ''dai pai dong'' in Hong Kong caught considerable public attention, as Man Yuen Noodles, a ''dai pai dong'' selling noodles in Central, faced imminent closure due to the death of the licensee. The news came after the closure of a bakery famous for its egg tarts, also located in Central and forced to close because of the rise of rent. The bakery reopened in October 2005.

Despite calls for its preservation by many locals, including some politicians, the stall was closed on July 30, 2005. The Hong Kong government was criticised for not trying its best to preserve ''dai pai dongs'' as part of the Hong Kong culture. The news of the closure coincided with the government's proposal of the development of West Kowloon Cultural District. The stall has unexpectedly reopened at a nearby shop on December 1, 2005.

Chinese sausage

Chinese sausage is a generic term referring to the many different types of sausages originating from China.


There is a choice of fatty or skimmed sausages. There are different kinds ranging in those made using fresh pork to those made using pig livers, duck livers and even turkey livers. Usually a livery sausage will be darker in colour than one made without liver. Recently, there have even been countries producing chicken Chinese sausages. Traditionally they are classified into two main types. It is sometimes rolled and steamed in dim sum.

* La Chang is a dried, hard sausage usually made from pork and a high content of fat. It is normally smoked, sweetened, and seasoned.
* Xiang Chang is a fresh and plump sausage consisting of coarsely chopped pieces of pork and pork fat. The sausage is rather sweet in taste.
* Ren Chang is made using duck liver. Ren Chang is not sweet in taste.


Southern Chinese

Chinese sausage is used as an ingredient in quite a number of dishes in China, including Hong Kong and the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi and Hunan, as well as countries in Southeast Asia. Two common examples of such dishes within Chinese cuisine include fried rice and ''lo mai gai''.

Many other examples include ''popiah'' and ''char kway teow'' in Fujian, Malaysia and Singapore. The traditional unpackaged forms are usually found in street market or wet markets.


Taiwan also produces a similar form of sausage, however they are rarely dried in the manner of Cantonese sausages. As well, the fat and meat may be emulsified and they contain a larger amount of sugar and is thus sweeter in taste. These sausages are usually produced by local butchers and sold at the markets or made directly at home. This variant of Chinese Sausage is known as ''xiangchang'' in Mandarin Chinese, literally meaning fragrant sausage. Although much loved by Taiwanese everywhere, this type of sausage is not commonly available outside the region.


Singapore has been coming up with many innovative Chinese sausages that are healthy. Examples that are created in Singapore are Chinese sausages with low fat, low sodium content and even a high fibre version.


In , the sausage is called either "Kyet-ou-gyaung" or "Wet-ou-gyaung" . The sausages made in Myanmar are more meaty and compact compared to the ones in Singapore or China. They are usually used in fried rice and along with fried vegetables, mostly cabbage.


In , the Chinese sausage is called "Koon Chiang" or "????????".
There is also Chinese sausage made with Snake-headed Fish meat.


In , the Chinese sausage is called "l?p x??ng" or "l?p x??ng".


It is available in Asian supermarkets overseas mostly in the vacuum-packaged form, although some Chinese groceries sell the unpackaged varieties as well. These tend to be made locally, for example much of the Chinese sausage sold in Canada is produced by a number of manufacturers based in Vancouver and Toronto.