Before I went for review, I was told that this is the tech hawker centre (?!) and that things are very affordable. During the visit, I found out that that:
- Things are really very affordable
- You pay for your food with your notes and coins to a machine that dispenses the exact amount of change. The hawker does not have contact with your money (cleaner food, cleaner money!) .
- Some of the stalls are entrepreneur stalls headed by young hawkers whom are being groomed by Fei Siong Food Management Pte Ltd. Potentials went through gruelling training and 14 of them successfully emerged to take over actual rented stalls at Ci Yuan Hawker Centre.
I went around to check out the food but was drawn by the Chicken Rice stall at #01-05.
Ah Koon is not the name of the entrepreneur stall owner. Derrick the young stall owner told me that Ah Koon is the name of his head chef, whom he had painstakingly picked. The Chef is Hainanese and he insists on cooking their fare the traditional, hainanese way.
I was told that there is a gym at Ci Yuan community centre and many of their patrons like to buy chicken rice from Ah Koon. My first thought was, “Isn’t chicken rice oily?” and Derrick invited me to sit down for a meal.
The chicken is plump and satisfying. However, it is easy to separate the fats and the skin from the meat, if you’re not a fan / have dietary requirements. The rice is very fragrant and I could smell it as I sent each mouthful into my mouth. However, the entire meal was not oily, and I don’t feel thirsty. How do they do it?
I spent an extended period of time speaking with Derrick to understand the training course from his point of view and to ask direct, realistic questions. Does he think he can sustain? What was the training like? Why does he choose to be a hawker? Does he earn enough (his chicken rice is $2.80!) ? He had very interesting answers, most of which were positive.
When it was time to pay, Derrick said that it was his treat, but I told him he needs to give me a chance to play with this machine.
At Ci Yuan Hawker Centre, every stall is equipped with a payment kiosk that makes payment a breeze. I asked if the elderly folks had any problems with using the kiosk and I’m told that sometimes, they need to be helped along but so far, there as been little problems.
The payment kiosk accepts both cash and coins and it dispenses change in both cash and coins, which I appreciate very much.
At Ci Yuan Hawker centre, there are no duplicate stores selling the same food except Muslim fare. Other than entrepreneur stalls there are some established / famous stalls as well.
My intelligence tells me that these two stalls have great food.
There is a huge variety of food at Ci Yuan hawker centre, some of which looks interesting.
I think it’s worth mentioning that Ci Yuan Hawker centre has a proper baby room. It’s the first that I’ve come across in a hawker centre, I wish more hawker centers have one, to make it more convenient for care takers of younger children to dine at hawker centres.
Here are address particulars for Ci Yuan Hawker Centre for your information.
Ci Yuan Hawker Centre
51 Hougang Avenue 9
Disclosure: I was provided with a token sum for the purposes of this food tasting and tech review session. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.