Tiger Beer began its Uncage Street Food Movement early in 2016, on a mission to ensure that the nightmare of Singapore hawker culture dying would never come to be – one local cultural institution lending a helping hand to another. Without either we’d have a very noticeable void in our lives, and dare I say – national identity.
Ever wondered what life would be like without hawkers? It’d be dull for starters, and we’d be a whole lot hungrier. And if not for people like Madam Wong of Cambridge Road Hong Kong Roast Pork toiling away daily, spending a bomb on food would be a circumstance many would find themselves in.
Tiger Beer’s Uncage Street Food Movement called on Singaporeans, and will continue to for its duration, to share pictures of their hawker meals on social media using #UNCAGESTREETFOOD. More stacks of kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs accompanied by good ol’ kopi, and less eggs benedict please.
We probably became a whole lot more appreciative of our favourite hawker dishes as a result of the movement. I shuddered at the thought of not having the luxury of an array of unpretentious fare like proper curry rice or “cai fan” within close proximity, not the sort found in mall food courts devoid of passion and love. This time around, let’s take time to express our gratitude as well.
Think of this like the Singapore Kindness Movement, but way better. Why? Because there’s food involved, good food if I might add, just in case you needed more reason to get on board the movement.
Want to show gratitude to your hawkers but drawing a blank? Fret not, here are some simple (often overlooked) ideas.
1. Don’t Make Unreasonable Demands
Sure everyone has their own preference. And there’s nothing wrong with customising your order, some dishes thrive on variety. But, if you’re going to remove half the things in the dish why bother ordering it?
Don’t play punk and order Chicken Rice without chicken ah.
2. Make Hawker Recommendations to Your Friends
So you’ve found a really good spot for hokkien mee. Tucked away deep in the heartlands, no one else seems to know it exists, save for the residents of the area. Most of us, including myself are guilty of keeping our favourite spots for good food a secret, and for good reason – no one really enjoys queuing.
But our beloved hawkers can’t survive on the patronage of a few loyal customers. Especially with rent and cost of ingredients always on the up. So do spread the love whenever possible.
3. Return Your Used Utensils
It’s literally clearing up after yourself. With most hawker centres sporting swanky, shiny utensil and tray return carts these days, it bothers me that people still find a way to leave a mess behind. Alternatively, you could just bring it back to the stall you patronised to make life easier for everyone.
4. Don’t Waste Any Food
Don’t fancy a particular ingredient? Want less noodles or rice? Let it be known, and like magic, your wish is granted. A clean plate, a happy customer and minimum waste is probably one of the most satisfying things about being a hawker, or working in the food and beverage industry in general.
5. Buy Your Favourite Hawker A Drink
Yes, the tried and tested method of showing someone gratitude; buy them a Kopi, Teh or even a bottle of Tiger beer. Take some time to get to know him or her.
Often too busy to sit down for a drink, try catching your favourite hawker for a quick pick-me-up during the afternoon lull or a well-deserved cold one at the end of a long day. Take some time to get to know the person cooking your food.
6. Say A Simple ‘Thank You’
Hawkers are often up and about during the early hours of the day, preparing ingredients tirelessly before transiting to a long day working in hot and confined spaces, often into the night to catch the dinner crowd.
Ever received a compliment that made your day? They don’t cost a thing, yet we rarely hand them out. A genuine compliment would make anyone’s day, including our beloved Singapore hawkers.
Restaurants and cafes are here to stay, there’s no doubt about that. Neither is there shame in enjoying what they bring to the table. But, for all the time we spend seeking out the newest joint to check out, there’s an old-timer who has been plying the trade for years, or someone young and bold enough like Deniece Tan of Truly Test Kitchen creating their own culinary and cultural legacies from scratch, choosing the path of a hawker.
Fast paced and modern, we’re all caught up in our daily grind, hustling harder and chasing the (two) dollar bill. When was the last time we took time to appreciate something, someone and let alone the hawkers that toil away serving the dishes we often take for granted.
The next phase of Tiger Beer’s street food movement invites Singaporeans to have a free meal on Tiger Beer starting on 14th September once a week for 4 weeks, at selected hawker centres across the island. The hawker centres involved will be announced via Tiger Beer’s Facebook page.
Promising to reinvest 20 cents per sale of 6-can packs of Tiger Beer, the beer synonymous with Singapore has now introduced the Tiger Street Food Support Fund as another part of the second phase of the movement. Aimed to help new or potential hawkers in the business of local fare, think char kway teow, popiah, mee rebus and the likes, with up to SGD$10,000 in reimbursements
This is another example of Singapore’s iconic beer championing the way for all thing’s local.
*This post was brought to you in partnership with Tiger Beer