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We’re at a coffee shop deep within an industrial estate in Jurong East. As we speak to the owner of Str Tao – pronounced Street Tao – Taiwan Cuisine we’re periodically interrupted by the shrill crash of metal on metal, or the teeth-rattling rumble of a heavy vehicle passing on by. It’s the last place you’d expect to find a hip Taiwanese stall complete with kooky decor and corny jokes to entertain you whilst you wait for your food.

Though that’s exactly where 33-year-old Johnson Ngiao decided to set up shop, a couple of years after leaving his high-flying job of eight years as a sous chef at a chain of well-established Chinese restaurants that he declines to reveal. The Alor Setar-born hawker started Str Tao Taiwan Cuisine on September 1 with a silent partner whom he’d worked with previously; they opened a version of the concept in a Ngee Ann Polytechnic canteen circa 2018, but it failed to take off there.

As for his eats, it’s everything but the kitchen sink when it comes to the pantheon of popular Taiwanese food. We’re not kidding – there’re 36 items on their menu in all, unusual and quite ambitious for a stall that doesn’t sell cai fan or zi char. Expect mains like lu rou fan (braised pork rice), oyster mee sua, hong shao beef noodles and the inexplicably trending Din Tai Fung-style fried rice; as well as snacks like spring onion pancakes, sweet potato fries and fried chicken cutlet.

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