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Her mee rebus is now just a memory

It used to be the go-to place for those who craved their mee rebus fix cheap and good.

But now, it will simply remain a blissful memory for patrons of Selera Kita at Block 58, New Upper Changi Road.

The owner, Madam Zahara Abu Bakar, 66, decided to draw the curtains on the business she started 36 years ago with her husband, Mr Awang Amir, after a painful injury to her right hand.

Madam Zahara had hit her hand on the kitchen shelves while stirring the gravy of her winning dish.

"I was always in a hurry to serve the customers as I didn't want them to wait very long... That was when I hit my hand on the shelves the first time.

"A month later, I hit my hand again," she told Berita Harian in her flat in Tampines.

Madam Zahara needed two shots of painkillers to manage the pain that had spread to her neck. She even tried Chinese medicine after it became unbearable.

Madam Zahara was known as one of Singapore's legendary hawkers and her mee rebus dish was sold at affordable prices, ranging from $1.20 to $2.

She was crowned a Singapore Hawker Master in the mee rebus category along with five others last November.

She decided to stop after her children's pleas for her to begin resting.

"I loved the stall, but my condition doesn't allow me to continue business. When I sleep at night, I can feel the stinging pain in my hand," she said.

Although she has shared her recipe of the mee rebus with her three children, Madam Zahara is adamant that the business has come to its end.

The stall is now being rented to the son of a mee goreng stall owner just beside hers, Mr Ragamatthulla Meeran Gani.

When TNP contacted Mr Ragamathullah yesterday, he said that he had known Madam Zahara since he was a six-year-old helping in his father's stall.

The 36-year-old, who was previously a boarding officer, said: "She is a very straightforward woman who is honest with her work and does it with passion."

When he was 18, the entrepreneur had asked Madam Zahara to hand him the stall once she was ready to take a break, but she was not ready then.

"She promised me that one day, she would hand over the stall to me," he said.

He leapt at the opportunity to begin his own business when Madam Zahara told him that it was about time she retired from the business early this year.

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He said that one of the reasons Madam Zahara could keep her prices affordable was because of the popularity of her food - the queue would, at times, snake to the neighbouring stalls.

She also charged according to portions, with the smallest priced at just $1.20.

The closure has upset some regulars like Madam Sharifah Intan Alsagoff, 71, who has bought Madam Zahara's mee rebus at least once a week since she moved to the area 37 years ago.

She said: "The long queues could be quite annoying, but I would wait because the mee rebus was good."

Madam Sharifah said a queue of 10 to 15 people would form in front of the stall once it opened and it remained until the mee rebus sold out by lunch time.

"A lot of people would go to the stall just for the mee rebus. They would buy five to six packets. Even taxi drivers knew about the mee rebus whenever I told them my address. They would say how good it was. It is a pity the business has closed," she said.

Local food expert KF Seetoh discovered that the stall was closing down only when TNP contacted him about it.

He said it was sad that such a famous stall had closed down.

He said: "Everything we like to eat in the hawker centres now is slowly disappearing. There is no more continuity."

- additional reporting by Natasya Ismail