Popular Curry Puff & Bak Chang Home-Based Biz Opens Hawker Stall, Luscious $3.20 Pork Belly Glutinous Rice Among New Dishes
When we spoke to Ken Lee, 41, last August, his home-based bak chang and curry puff biz was doing well enough for the former pastry cook-turned-personal trainer to consider opening a physical shop. Launched in April 2020, Kim Lee Traditional Hokkien Zhang, which operated mainly from a Facebook page, received “between 80 to 100 orders a day” for their signature rice dumplings at its peak. His Vietnam-born wife, Le Thi Kim Chi, who goes by Kim, 38, assisted him in cooking the meat fillings, steaming and wrapping of dumplings.
Ken added curry puffs to the menu after Kim had to go for a brain tumour removal surgery in July 2020, as “it’s simpler for her to do” compared to the laborious work required to make bak changs. For the next two years, the couple took orders once a week, churning out about 100 dumplings and 100 puffs from their four-room HDB flat.
Earlier this year, Ken realised that they’ve outgrown their home kitchen and started searching for a physical stall to increase production. Two months ago, the couple invested about $15K to open their stall, Kim Lee Traditional Hokkien Zhang & Crispy Puff, at a Jalan Berseh coffee shop (which also houses the popular Sungei Road Laksa). The stall is now able handle four times as many orders. “We can make up to 400 changs and 400 puffs a day now,” says Ken.
On top of their signature Hokkien rice dumplings and crispy puffs with fillings like curry chicken, sardine and store-bought Muar otak, the new stall also offers steamed glutinous rice with pork belly, congee and deep-fried snacks like chicken wings, har cheong chicken skin and prawn fritters.
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