DIY popiah experience to remember
The 30-year-old wants me to call him Ah Boy - the nickname he is known by in the food business.
His real name is Boon Kai Chun and he runs make-it-yourself popiah restaurant Good Chance.
His grandfather, now 95, founded the joint in the 70s, and Ah Boy took over after his aunt Betty retired.
Good Chance is one of the few rare Hokkien restaurants that specialises in do-it-yourself popiah.
Ah Boy admits that many of his Gen Y peers do not know the true meaning and experience of eating popiah. He says: "They think it's just a spring roll you buy from hawkers."
Hence, Ah Boy has this problem of needing to reinvent the business. However, he is torn between "preserving tradition" and wooing new young and nonchalant customers. On his customers, he says: "They want to know more about the food heritage."
So just being efficient is not good enough: "(Restaurants) must entertain, tell stories, inform the customers and make it a memorable experience."
Good Chance's popiah (set from $18) comes with soft, springy and moist skin, which they get fresh daily from their long-time supplier Kway Guan at Joo Chiat.
It makes a world of difference from the usual drier hawker version.
Good Chance's popiah holds flavourful stewed turnips, prawns, crabmeat (separate order), bean sprouts, Chinese sausage, egg slices, crushed nuts and chilli very well.
If you are clueless, they will teach you how to do a fine wrap. Says Ah Boy: "Many younger customers say they have no time to make them. But that is just an excuse. Bonding over makan is a fun and social exercise."
I also like their kong bak (braised pork) pau ($16), which comes with yellow (with mashed pumpkin) buns. It is soft, and the stewed yam and fatty pork combination is a delight to devour.
Their ter kah beehoon ($14), which uses the classic tinned ter kah (pork knuckles), is delicious too as it comes with a smoky thick black soy sauce.
In addition, I adore their fish head yam soup ($16), which is thickened with the tuber and meaty chunks of threadfin fish head. It is umami and not so salty.
However, the salted egg yolk crayfish ($10 per crayfish), which is another signature here, does not do it for me. I wish they would add shards of cut red chillies to up the spice quotient.
Good Chance Popiah
Block 149, Silat Avenue, #01-58
- 11am-2.30pm, 6pm-9.30pm
- 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.