The Story of Hock Kee Birds Nest Drinks
Hock Kee Birds Nest Drinks (福记燕窝水) originally started in the 1950s with only a push cart travelling around Singapore. Gradually, owner Mr Tan Or Kee and his kids set up various road-side stalls at several temple events, operas, getai and even Dang Lang Hui (also know as Expo).
At that time, one cup of Birds Nest Drink was only priced at 5 cents (small) / 10 cents (big). Despite the price, the fragrance from the boiling pandan leaves attracts long queue people from all areas. Now when you ask anyone from the generation X, they will definitely remember this well known drink during their time.
As time passes, Dang Lang Hui ceased operations and road stalls were banned entering getai and operas. Pasar malam (night market) emerged and bird nest drinks are only available in pasar malam. But you know lah, pasar malam does not happen frequently at the same place. Typically, it will be at one location for about 10 days. And for stall owners, they always get questions like “where is your next location?”. Plus every time the owners move from one pasar malam to another, they have to load and unload the goods. So 3rd generation owner of Hock Kee Birds Nest Drink Boon Leng decided to open a permanent stall in Chomp Chomp.
I met 26-year-old Boon Leng last week. He is taking over his grandparents’ and parents’ business as he has been helping out since he was a child – running around Pasar malams as his parents tend the stalls was part of a joyful childhood.
Honestly speaking, I don’t know the story behind the cup of bird nest drink anymore. I thought it was “just normal sugar water with agar agar”. But after speaking to Boon Leng, I then realised that a cup of bird nest drink may look simple, but it actually requires alot of time, preparation and hard work behind the scene.
The water are all 100% daily boiled using carefully selected pandan leaves. The bird nest (they use cui yan) require detailed picking and cleansing before serving each cup to customers. From sugar to the birds nest and water, every ingredient used is prepared by themselves. With a permanent stall in Chomp Chomp, it gives more people (especially the youngsters) to try it.
Here a video of Hock Kee Birds Nest Drinks by SPH Razor TV.
Hock Kee Birds Nest Drinks
Address: 20 Kensington Park Road
Chomp Chomp Food Centre Stall no. 28
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Hock Kee Birds Nest Drinks will be taking part in Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014 for the very first time. This is a fund raising event for the beneficiaries under the care of Touch Community Services. Let’s do a part for charity. See you there!
Singapore Ultimate Hawker Fest 2014
Venue: SUNTEC Convention Hall 401-402
Date: 22 Nov 2014 (Saturday)
Time: 11am to 5pm
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