RIP The Last Satay Man of Tiong Bahru and in Singapore!
Final Death of Good Street Food in Singapore – Case Closed.
Sadly the bureaucratic system of Singapore has caught up with one beloved food street vendor in Tiong Bahru / Singapore once again. Uncle Satay Man was fined big time by our very efficient Government system for ‘illegal food vendor/selling’ . I got this news through TiongBahru.org – a group of passionate people.
Uncle does traditional Hainanese satay unlike the Malay satay that is famously promoted by the Singapore Tourist Board. Hainanese satay is mainly only pork, with a slice of fat in between the meat. Traditionally three layers per stick, meaning it is meat, fat, meat. Marinated lightly, it is served with grated pineapple and peanut sauce with chilli oil, accompanied condiments of rice cubes “ketupat”, sliced red onion and cucumber. The key for a good hainanese satay is using charcoal grill, frequent brushes of oil for that Maillard reaction. i.e the skill is in the grilling!
Tiong Bahru was one of the last vestiges of nostagic Singapore before it was killed by Gentrification a few years ago. Turned into yet another hipster hang out, invaded with cafes and hipster restaurants. Tiong Bahru was finally murdered 2 years ago, the old retail shops and traditional food stores have ceased to exist. Leaving only shells and memories of the distant past.
Sorry Uncle Satay Man, thank you for your contribution to Singapore Street Food Culture.
Why is this so important to me?
Back in the old days, this is how we get our satay in our local neighbourhood, a little cart, the satay man with his traditional satay bamboo leaf handheld fan. Going around the neighbourhood, yelling Satay….. Satay… Satay…. Yes. the good old 1960s-80s nostalgia where we get our door to door food vendors.
(Why no complete photo of the Satay Man? Because I don’t want to show his face to the public due to the sensitive nature of the business. The common Singapore saying “In case police catch him”. Unfortunately too many people have posted about him and pasted his image all over the web)