Down-sized Baos! : Teochew Handmade Pau


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Either come to a hawker centre with a big appetite, or be sure of what you want to eat and save your other cravings for a separate day. I, for one, am unable to do either#foodieconfessions. I tend to travel alone, and with a small stomach with many cravings, this severely limits my scope of tasting.

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So i’m grateful for hawkers like Mr Yeoh. He probably met a few customers like me, those 不自量力, gotta’-try-them-all kind of small eaters when he thought of the idea of mini baos. Some people enjoy super-size meals, but i prefer a 10 course mini-size meal. At his stall, there’s a mini-me version of many of our favourites, from the popular char sao to red bean. And if you intend to increase your life span in a matter of minutes, you can afford to pop a few mini longevity buns, or shou tao, into your mouth without getting too full.

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Mr Yeoh went to the extent of shrinking down kong ba baos, stewed pork buns, to small bite sized portions. He wants his customers to be able to appreciate the different types of buns without getting bloated. But I was quick to order EVERYTHING on the menu, and got bloated anyway.

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And you can imagine how much more time it takes to create 10 mini baos compared to 3 normal sized ones. For more than 40 years, Mr Yeoh starts his day at 4am and shapes the baos all the way to lunch time. I’d like to think that he’s probably sold more than a million baos by now. But beyond the hard work and dedication, lies a humble ambition; to raise a family. And like many of the hawkers of the past who turned to this trade, feeding their families and sending their children to schools was biggest the motivation. For Mr Yeoh, things were especially tough as he had to raise three children by himself. But he succeeded despite all odds.

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Today, Mr Yeoh sells baos as a hobby, more than a means to raise a family. And for many of the hawkers from his generation with children all grown-up with families of their own, their biggest motivation comes not from their home, but from their customers:)

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Address: #02-02, Toa Payoh West Market and Food Court, 127 Toa Payoh Lorong 1

Opening Hours: 6am to 12pm

Prices:

  • Generally from 60 cents to $1

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