Ex-Santi Restaurant Chef Opens Scissors-Cut Curry Rice Hawker Stall In Yishun Kopitiam
His partner and childhood pal meanwhile is the one with the extensive hawker experience.
Good Hainanese curry rice is unfussy, comforting fare – a homely mess of fragrant, lemak curry and thick gravy on rice with fixings like deep-fried pork chop, braised pork belly and cabbage. At some stalls, which refer to themselves as selling scissors-cut curry rice, these accompaniments are often snipped into bite-sized slices with a pair of scissors.
The popular dish has its roots in the Hainanese immigrant community in Singapore – drawing from British and Peranakan influences – which is why it’s rather unusual to find the dish sold by a couple of Hakkas from Kuching, Sarawak, at a hawker stall tucked away in a sweltering Yishun kopitiam.
Legend Scissors Cut Curry Rice was opened by Bong Chon Joon (left) and Chai Chin Tek (right), both 38, in October 2020. The latter is in his element, having spent many of his years in Singapore cooking at mixed rice and nasi padang stalls (plus one year learning from a Hainanese curry rice joint, the name of which he declines to share).
On the other hand, Chon Joon’s experience is largely in European fare, spending a year as a demi chef (assistant line cook) at now-defunct Spanish restaurant Santi, which was a part of Marina Bay Sands’ first wave of celeb chef-owned joints. It was helmed by its namesake Santi Santamaria – whose restaurants counted seven Michelin stars among them, including three for his now-closed flagship, El Raco de Can Fabes – before the Catalan chef’s untimely demise.
The two guys have sailed under the radar while building an appreciable following – there’s a continuous stream of customers throughout 8days.sg’s Tuesday morning shoot – and have only recently gotten onto social media, thanks to a regular customer-turned-business partner Daniel Chong, 29.
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