Owner and cook Tom Loo, 28, of Citizoom Minced Fish Noodles | Photo: Andre Frois
Tom Loo’s customers are often in disbelief that a young man like him is cooking and serving up tasty fishball noodles.
“They often remark, ‘So young? You know how to cook or not?’” Loo said with a laugh.
Loo, 28, runs his own stall – Citizoom Minced Fish Noodles – in a quiet coffee shop below a block of HDB flats at Lengkok Bahru in Redhill.
And he manages to attract a loyal following for his mee pok tar (flat noodles with sauce) even though his stall seems out of the way to some.
He learnt the art of making fishballs and fishcakes working for an army buddy’s mother, who sold them commercially. He subsequently went on to set up his own “minced fish” noodle stall in 2008.
“My noodles really sucked when I first started. They improved only after four years of tweaking. I had customers caring enough to recommend me ingredients that improved my recipes,” Loo admitted.
Mee pok tar (flat noodles with sauce) topped with fishcake, fishballs, fried fish dumplings and “fish meat crumbs” | Photo: Daniel Ang
He said he has always wanted to be a chef since he was young, but his parents did not approve, so he took up a diploma in computer engineering.
“You can earn decent money as a hawker, but there is a lot of hard work involved,” he said.
On a typical day at work, Loo wakes up at 5am to make wanton (dumplings) before making his way to his stall at 8.30am and working all the way until the lunch crowd dissipates.
“People don’t want to give up their comfy airconditioned offices for a workplace that’s all oil and perspiration. Only passion can keep one in this line of work,” Loo said.
“Over the next few years, it seems likely that more elderly hawkers will retire and maybe, more foreigners will take over the scene. I just hope that Singapore won’t be left with just atas (posh) restaurants, while good local food becomes a rarity,” he added.
Tom's Citizoom Minced Fish Noodles | Address: Blk 57, Lengkok Bahru, #01-489
Read more: Tom’s Citizoom Mee Pok Tar
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