Bid adieu to regular char siew
Randall Gan and Kai Koh are hawkers in their 20s with gumption and quiet determination.
Both gave up jobs at the integrated resorts and took $2,000 pay cuts to pursue this "dream" job.
They now take home about $1,000 a month each at their two-month-old roast meat stall, specialising in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Seremban-style char siew.
Randall found new love for char siew at Kai's uncle's shop, Famous Seremban Favourites, in Seremban where they worked together.
"The ones I had as a kid here were pathetic. Initially I had doubts about partnering Kai. But once I saw and ate this, I was a born-again char siew lover".
They start at 5am and by 10.30am, the first batch is ready. They clear up to 30kg of char siew every day. But roast duck and "sio bak" (roast pork belly) are missing "due to manpower and space constraints".
They are actually going to perfect the product before introducing it.
Their char siew is classic KL-style - sticky, sweet and chunky. They only use the sinful "bu jian tian", which means "never sees the sky". The meat is located between the pig's shoulders and belly, where it is more tender.
Just like back in Kai's uncle's shop.
Randall says if you are looking for the same old leaner cuts, "try the other two stalls around. We want to be different, yet old-fashioned".
They roast the pork with skin and it comes out like char siew crackling. Ask for the pork collar and/or belly meat platter.
You can have it with their garlic rice (tastes like chicken rice), though I prefer the plain rice as it carries the sweet, sticky caramelised meats nicely.
I like their Hakka char siew noodle, as it comes with pork oil (not lard) and a dash of sesame and onion oils - addictive. The stack of char siew and spoonful of minced meat makes it more delectable.
"My friends thought we were crazy and silly to be doing this, but I say this is a very down-to-earth job and full of challenge and meaning," Randall says.
He says that in 10 years, he wants to own at least eight stalls, be financially stable to get married, have kids and house them, and tell his civil service parents to retire at his expense.
I don't think he needs 10 years, with that kind of determination and focus. I reckon, five should see him at his goal.
51, Old Airport Road, #01-122, Old Airport Road Food Centre
10.30am to 4pm, closed on Mondays
- MAKANSUTRA, FOUNDED BY KF SEETOH, IS A COMPANY THAT CELEBRATES ASIAN FOOD CULTURE AND LIFESTYLE. IT PUBLISHES FOOD GUIDES IN AND AROUND THE REGION, PRODUCES A FOOD SERIES, DEVELOPS INTERACTIVE MOBILE CONTENT AND SERVICES, OPERATES FOODCOURTS AND EATERIES, ORGANISES FOOD TOURS AND EVENTS, AND CONSULTS ON CULINARY CONCEPTS.