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THE WORLD STREET FOOD AWARDS 2013
A recognition programme component of the World Street Food Congress
CATEGORIES: (click on the bar for more information)
Best Street Food City: Singapore
Criteria: Actively engages in tripartite relationships between government, street food vendors and industry players to preserve, promote and celebrate comfort and street food culture. The city must also present opportunities for society to be a part of this food culture.
The itinerant street food vendors appeared en mass before and after World War 2, out of sheer desperation and ingenuity. Many migrants from all over the world took to the streets with their heritage recipes in tow. In the 1950’s, about 24,000 illegal mobile hawkers were plying the streets of Singapore. It was a health, environment and economic hazard. In the late 60s the government created “Hawker Centres”, a simple shed with up to 150 small kitchen spaces that had clean water, electricity and with seats and systematically relocated them, away from the hazards of being on the streets. Today there are 107 such hawker centres and these street food vendors hawk their iconic fare in these places – no frills, cheap and delicious. Any Singaporeans today can bid for a stall (ranging from $21 to $3000 a month) and try their luck at this business. There are many success stories. Many iconic and some legendary hawkers from the older generations are already into retirement age and not many younger people are jumping onto this food bandwagon. The well-loved Singapore street food culture is suffering from continuity, a slow cancer of sorts. Now, private organisations, students have started campaigns to create “Hawkerpreneurship” programs and the government will fund up to 90% of any citizen looking to study at approve street food academies. Many food and beverage companies are eager to hire folks who have local food skills. The government has even began to issue licenses for mobile food trucks and pop up street kitchens, in their effort to relive the “lost era” and bring about a more exciting dining experience in the city. This “tripartite” (society, corporate and government) partnership and love for the street food culture ensures that good and cheap food and its attendant opportunities will always be available to the masses.
Street Food Entrepreneur of the Year: George Quek & Iwan Tjandra
Criteria: Has a cogent and clear understanding of the potentials and nuances of street food culture
and generates or harness ground-breaking opportunities and ideas in that field.
George Quek, Chairman of BreadTalk Group, Singapore
Dr George Quek, with a burning desire to dabble in the street food business since his student days in
Taiwan, set up the first, biggest chain of food courts in Singapore (Food Junction). He moved on to
create the publicly listed BreadTalk, a comfort and street food conglomerate, offering brands like
Toast Box, BreakTalk and Food Republic, founded in the region and in China. He has a keen eye on
street food trends and is regarded as the big brother of the F&B industry in Singapore.
Iwan Tjandra, Director of Eat and Eat Food Court, Indonesia
Pak Iwan Tjandra hobbled over a few failed food businesses in Indonesia before he bravely took a
30,000 square feet food court space in Kelapa Gading, Jakarta’s affluent Chinatown area, next to an
established and existing food court megabrand player a few years back. Without much prior
knowledge and know how, he patiently persuaded top street food vendors to leave their unhygienic
and dangerous roadside space and relocate to this simple setup, offering deals they could not refuse.
He opened with just 9 out of 30 stall spaces. Today, with the momentum and reputation built, he has
7 outlets and there is waiting list of hawkers for his Eat and Eat food courts. Mall developers openly
offer their spaces for him even at drafting stage, to build and design for him in advance. Pak Iwan is
seen as an entrepreneur that is professionalising the humble street food industry in Indonesia and is
offering new possibilities to any simple hawker on the street – a chance to professionalise and
expand, with just their humble and authentic street food recipes and the desire to succeed.
Best Street Food Guide / Magazine: No winners
Criteria: Takes the enjoyment and understanding of street food to a higher level. It takes on content
with a 360 degree viewpoint and provides a bird’s eye view for both food lovers and industry
No winners for 2013
Best Street Food Eatery Concept: Eat and Eat Food Court/Tacombi /Quan Ngon
Criteria: A “thinking” kitchen and eating space that expresses street food culture in a setting that is
innovative, refreshing and thought-provoking while staying true to its heritage.
Eat and Eat Food Court, Indonesia
Gandaria City Mall Lt.2 Jalan KH. M. Syafii Hadzami No.8, Kebayoran Lama Jakarta Selatan, Jakarta,
This is one of the most beautiful food courts in the world that was designed with food culture and
heritage in mind. Iwan Tjandra expanded and cajoled the street food spirit off the streets and into
his Eat and Eat food courts, sparing no expense in delivering an eating space that factor in digestion
of the culture. Kaki Lima food carts, open kitchen stations, steel and untrimmed natural wooden
tables dot his food court. It seems cluttered, yet is very inviting like a street food party atmosphere.
They take good itinerant hawkers off the streets and install them in their sprawling premises and
offer them unbeatable deals. There is now a waiting list for hawkers to take up spaces in his 7
outlets (currently) in Indonesia.
Tacombi, United States of America
267 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012, USA
They took an old garage space in New York and converted it into a dead end back lane food street,
complete with their iconic and famous retro Volkswagen Combi van parked at the side. They
converted the Combi van into a taco truck, installed a uniquely Mexican drinks stall on another end
and have a full Mexican street food kitchen at the end. It is lit by a glass roofed atrium light and at
first impression; it feels just like a food street in a forgotten corner in Mexico. They are seen as
imaginative in the way street food can be offered and delivered. A creative street dining experience
designed with true experiences in mind.
Quan Ngon, Vietnam
393 Tô Hiệu, Lê Chân, Hai Phong, Vietnam
They were regarded as the first visionary street food entrepreneurs in Vietnam. Imagine a sprawling,
friendly, tree lined, cool and comfortable villa – then picture a line of top street food vendors
humbly plying their iconic fare around designated areas in the villa. It feels like you invited all your
favourite street food vendors to your house for a mega food party. Ms Huong did just that and they
are now an icon. Many others have followed suit and in a country that bans itinerant food hawking,
they are seen as creative preservers of this tradition.
Street Food Product Manufacturer of the Year: No winners
Criteria: Creating authentic street food tastes and flavours from food loving lands and making it
accessible to a mass global audience. It takes into account the best practices and ingredients used.
No winners for 2013
Best Street Food Hawker Centres / Hawker Streets
Criteria: Showcasing the unique culture and flavours of comfort street food that preserves and promotes the best in their respective countries. Good hygiene and safety operation and environmental factors.
Yaowarat Road, Samphanthawong, Bangkok, Thailand
A bustling food street off Bangkok’s Chinatown area with vast and fresh offerings. Each vendor is licensed and observes basic food hygiene and handling rules. The area comes to life at night and the street food party atmosphere is very evident.
Old Airport Road Food Centre / East Coast Lagoon Food Centre, Singapore
19 Old Airport Rd, Singapore / 1220 East Coast Parkway, Singapore
These are two of the biggest street food hawker centres in Singapore where legendary old hawkers (multi generation businesses) offer old-school local street fare like rojak and char kway teow reside among young “hipster” hawkers hawking muffins and pasta, all jostling for that food mad dollar in Singapore.
Ben Thanh Market, Vietnam
Intersection of Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Tran Hung Dao Avenues and Le Lai Street, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Established by the French in the mid-1800s, this old and solid market is a haven for good local Vietnamese street chow. Vietnam does not legislate nor recognise street food hawking, so spaces like these are where many locals and travellers alike come to experience their first mouthful of the distinct local flavours like, banh mi and pho. It is clean, bustling and very alive with food and goods vendors beckoning you to haggle, among which, to buy their famed Kopi Luwak, also known as weasel coffee beans. Prices are relatively inexpensive and food is authentic and of a good range.
Street Food Masters of the Year (Top 20)
Criteria: We look at their mode of operations – ingredients sourcing, food preparation, hygiene factor, adaptability, consistency, confidence and the quality and flavour of food. We also factor in their ability to inspire and create jobs, reputation and opportunities for the populace, even the displaced and disadvantaged.
1. Soto Ayam Ambengan Pak Sadi Asli, Indonesia
Jalan Wolter Monginsidi Indah 28, Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, Indonesia
By now it’s a registered brand, as too many have tried to copy and live off his reputation. This humble, nary educated Pak Sadi began assisting his uncle selling spicy chicken soup (Soto Ayam Lamongan) on a street yoke kitchen as a kid. He moved on from failures to success with his current recipe. Now his chain of street stalls and cafes, consistent and very impressive in standards and service, is a household name in Indonesia and loved by the affluent and the simple folks. His story is about learning, earing and returning to society. The amount of jobs created and reputation he has garnered is admirable.
2. Wee Nam Kee, Singapore
Makansutra Gluttons Bay, 8 Raffles Avenue, Singapore
Mr Wee Toon Oout gave up a lucrative career in advertising to buy up this simple chicken rice stall almost 30 years ago. He turned it into an experience and upped the yum factor by simply listening to customers (he had no prior experience in this field). Today, Wee Nam Kee is one of the most regarded chicken rice stalls with 4 outlets in Singapore and 7 stalls in Philippines. Some of their top chefs are “Yellow Ribbon” reformers who have now found new meaning and space in life.
3. La Guerrerense, Mexico
Esquina de Lopez Mateos Y Alvarado, 22810 Ensenada, Baja California
Mother and Daughter team, Sabina and Mariana Bandera, are gems of Mexico. With just a humble street food cart in Ensenada, Baja, offering tostadas with fresh seafood, ceviche topped with their distinct chilli sauces and salsas (including their famed peanut salsa) they kept the world tuned into Mexican food culture. International news magazines have named their food as one of the “101 best things to eat on earth”. Despite being featured on TV on countless occasions, they remain cheerful and humble, and they are endeared by many casual foodies worldwide. They are a street food living legend of Mexico.
4. Banh Can 38, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
154 Nguyen Dinh Chinh, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
These folks run a street side stall selling a traditional Vietnamese snack – crispy and baked seafood pancakes. Ms Phan Thi Thu Loan ditched her architecture degree to sell artisanal food. They, despite modernisation, still do it the old fashioned way, over wood fire using claypots and pans. They are sticklers to old school traditions and their methods have gained respect from the locals, international travellers and media alike. For starters, they blend and pound soaked rice to make the batter. Flour will not do. They are true to traditions and keepers of the faith in Vietnam food culture.
5. JB Ah Meng, Singapore
2 Lorong 23 Geylang, Singapore
They are an inspiration when it comes to pushing the boundaries of street cuisines from a wok. His humble stall at the back lanes off the red light district in Singapore is like a crawl hole spot that legends like Chef Feran Adria of El Bulli and other Michelin star chefs seek out too. He is also very popular with the local foodies. His white pepper crabs stands proud even among the more famous establishments and his salted egg yolk tempura prawns have spurned unsuccessful copycats. His story is about the fearsome attitude of street cuisine hawkers, who must constantly innovate, just to keep the customer returning.
6. Sate Ayam Barokah Haji Basiri, Jakarta, Indonesia
Jalan Arteri Pondok Indah No.5, Kebayoran Lama, Jakarta, Indonesia
They stick to traditions and offer satay that is soft, juicy, fresh and consistent in all their outlets in Indonesia. Their customers include the humble blue collared workers, celebrities and even politicians. Haji Basiri sells a food culture that cuts across all social lines and is fearlessly loved by all. They now have 4 outlets in Jakarta and continue to deliver these skewers that give Indonesian food culture a proud yet humble reputation.
7. Donald & Lily’s, Malacca, Malaysia
No. 16, Ground floor, Jalan KSB 1, Taman Kota Shahbandar, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Decades ago, they began hawking Nonya food in a cart in the Nonya capital of Malaysia, Malacca. A reputation was created and they are considered culinary legends in their own right. Daughter Jennifer now continues this legacy where her retired parents left off. They are regarded as a true blue legend of comfort Nonya chow and their offerings, like mee siam, laksa and nasi lemak, are stuff memories are made of. Jennifer is now thinking of ways to hand this heritage over to her kids, who will become third generation keepers of this faith. This is the story of a family determined to continue the legacy of this street food legend.
8. Line Clear Nasi Kandar, Penang, Malaysia
177, Jalan Penang, Georgetown, 10000 Georgetown, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Nasi Kandar is an Indian rice meal created uniquely by the migrant Indian that came to Penang way decades ago. This stall clearly draws the crowd in, at their little lane-side stall off the main street. It has been converted to a complex food shed patronised by locals, tourists, celebrities and politicians. They all line up patiently to order food placed on a wall shelf, like Indian fried chicken, spicy black ink squid, mutton stews and fish head curries, plus a simple egg and curried ochre, among others. They point to a clear success route and message that street food can and must evolve as it is a food culture that is well loved and cuts across all lines of divide.
9. Chiang Ji Teochew Fish Porridge, Yaowarat, Thailand
Chiang Kii, 54 Soi Bamrungrat, Bangkok, Thailand
This simple street side hole-in-the-wall stall, off Chinatown in Bangkok, is a proud example of heritage and pride of cuisine. They offer Thai-Teochew pomfret fish rice porridge in an old school set up, with a wooden ventilation structure that sits atop the wood-fire stove. The old master diligently cooks while the wife often sits in front and checks up of the fire-wood and heat. They ladle clear fish broth, distinct and authentic, over steamed rice (slightly aldente) and top it with the freshest slices of sweet pomfret fish, speckled with fried garlic and pickled vegetables. This dish is losing its heritage in China but these folks kept the faith, and judging by the loyal following, they have done it proud.
10. Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice, Singapore
Block 335 Smith St, #02-199, Chinatown Complex, Singapore
This humble dish, which was once created by poor street food folks in China for their richer customers, is a very difficult dish to master but easy to like. All can go awry if the fire and water ratio is not well managed. It has to be done over wood fire and nobody likes to wait longer than necessary for this dish that requires patience to make. The sisters that run this hawker stall move with clockwork efficiency and speeds up with a unique gas and wood fire technique that takes nothing out of the original smokiness that aficionados love. They protect this dying food tradition and have earned numerous accolades and respect for their craft.
11. Nasi Campur Ayam Kampung Khas Bali Made Weti, Indonesia
Jalan Segara Ayu (by the beach), Sanur, Bali 80228, Indonesia
Ibu Weti sits proudly in a little food shed in Sanur, Bali, for just a few mornings on most days. Her well executed simple dishes like spicy chicken salad and eggs plus vegetables draw a long line of blue and white collared professionals, plus the who’s who of planet fame and foodies each morning. The traditional rice sets she sells comes very affordable, hence, dispatch riders and top back officials can sit and come together over her food. Without fail, she sells out by lunch time each day she opens for business.
12. Sai Tin Hang Or Luak (Oyster Omelette), China (丘淑英西天巷蚝烙)
Shen Ping Road (升平路), Shantou, Chaozhou, China
This was the hawker that Mr Johnny Chan, television show food host, wine maker and member of the World Street Food Council talked about at the World Street Food Dialogue recently. He ate her oyster omelette as a kid in China, and sixty years later, she is still holed up in the back lane offering that same platter of joy. Her Or Luak is very authentic and made diligently on a single pan, one at a time. Her artful pan fried mix of lard, duck eggs, starch, oysters, chilli paste with coriander is supremely adorable. Mdm Qiu, already in her 80s, has been featured in numerous international food shows and magazines and she is still humbly at it. Her son helps out at the stall and is looking at new opportunities to grow out of that little back lane in Shantou, China.
13. Khun Pas, Bangkok, Thailand
Silom Soi 5, (Soi La Lai Sob Saladang), Bangkok, Thailand
If you blink, you might miss their little stall, sitting pretty under an umbrella in a litlle soi (lane) off Saladang, Bangkok. The consistent crowd that throng and block their stall won’t help either. They are all there for the traditional Thai snacks – Thuea Pep and Khao Kriab Pak Moh. They steam sheets of soft and moist starch sheets over an old fashioned cloth-top steamer, and serve it up sweet with steamed mung beans (for texture) with sugar or roll it up with minced meat with greens and chilli. It is an addictive snack and they stick to this traditional form of making it. They still colour their food with natural agents like pandan leaves, blue pea flowers, pumpkins and even black toasted sesame seeds. They are proof that very successful street food vendors can remain simple and efficient. Ms Bowon and her husband have taken over operation from her mother and will take their humble artisanal food culture into the future.
14. Hill Street Fried Kway Teow, Singapore
Block 16 Bedok South Road, #01-187, Bedok South Road Food Centre
Mr Ng had been selling this dish, and nothing else, for over 45 years. When he fries, it’s as if he goes into a trance. He notices each strand of noodle in the wok, tosses it about and knows exactly when to stop, so it comes sweet, savoury, salty, moist, eggy, crunchy (with bean sprouts) and moreish. His son Kenneth, has quit his professional job and proudly took over and assist his aging father. Their street food craft and heritage provides well for anyone who takes pride in it.
15. Liverpool Restaurant, Bangkok, Thailand
60, Soi 5, Chula 12, Bangkok, Thailand
This nameless food stall in Bangkok is nicknamed as such because the owners’ son is a fan of the famous football club. The whole shop space looks like a Liverpool museum. The mother, Mdm Je Ngo, ran a street side stall (her stove still sits out by the street, distinct with a giraffe-neck exhaust sticking out) but they have since expanded over the years to include no frills indoor seating in the shop space beside it. She cooks with lightning speed, a menu of Thai-Teochew family dishes, fresh and consistently so. Customers keep returning for their meat cakes, stir fried offals with salted vegetables etc.. The atmosphere they keep is truly in line with the pleasures of street food dining in a city with a rich heritage of this food culture.
16. Rumah Makan Nasi Kapau, Indonesia
Simpang Tugu, Korong Tabik, Nagari Kapau, West Sumatra, Indonesia
Pak Afdal is stubborn when it comes to preserving his Padang food heritage from Indonesia. After gigs in finer restaurants all over the region, he returned home to Agam, Padang, to set up a simple street side hut to hawk home flavours – what he says is “food people here appreciates”. Among others, his dark and drier style beef rendang are the stuff food historians will talk about.
17. EuroTrash Food Cart, United States of America
SE 43rd & Belmont and SW 10th & Washington, Portland, Oregon 97214, USA
Charles Thomas just wanted to open a food truck and sell the “tastiest, trashiest” European inspired chow. This once jobless artisan dug into what his folks and his life experience taught him about eating and living, “just keep cooking good food and all will be ok.” His EuroTrash food truck in Portland, Oregon (USA), serves up imaginative “trash” that has caught the eye and palate of fans there, including his soft shell crab burger, which was one of the top hits at the World Street Food Jamboree. His success story is about how entry-level street food entrepreneurial opportunities provides level playing field avenues for all.
18. India Gate Bhelpuri, India
Rajpath, New Delhi, India
A stubborn believer that better days are coming. Gulab Singh is an itinerant hawker from Delhi that sells spicy masala crispies tossed with fresh chopped greens like coriander and tomatoes. He then douses it with a mango-date-coriander chutney sauce. It is deceivingly simple and utterly moreish. He comes under the wings of NASVI (National Association of Street Vendors in India) an NGO group that is fighting for their rights to vend in society and legislation for their lot. India does not at present, recognise and govern street vending.
19. Wan Dao Tou Assam Laksa, Malaysia
1W Jalan Gottlieb, NW of City Centre, Georgetown, Penang Island, Malaysia
They are competition winners of this tangy spicy Penang dish in their own city. Daughter Lim Ee Quan gave up her comfy beauty salon business to perfect this decades old family recipe in a frill-less and hot coffeeshop stall, and was crowned best Penang Laksa stall in a local competition. She constantly thinks about what she will hand over to her child when they are of age. She is a defender of local street food heritage and this family business culture
20. Nam Bo Chuoi Nuong, Vietnam
352 Nguyen Trai, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
They are a story about how staying true and humble to traditions can yield results. They hawk Chuoi Nuong – grilled banana wrapped with sticky rice and banana leaf, which acts as the only aromatic agent. They were also one of the best performers at the WSF Jamboree 2013.
Best Street Social Enterprise Food Association / Group: NASVI/ La Cocina/ Dignity Kitchen
Criteria: Addresses a mission that encompasses the multi-faculty development of street food culture and business, and addresses their longevity and viability.
This NGO is set up by former legal eagle Arbind Singh, with the sole purpose of creating legitimacy for the millions on itinerant street vendors in India, including food hawkers. Over the last 15 years, they have been patiently engaging the Indian government to recognise their rights to vend in the streets and to make them inclusive in society. A motion for discussion has been tabled for their Parliament. When it happens, up to 3 million street food hawkers in India will be legitimises. It represents huge opportunities and will open a new door of possibilities for the poor and the business communities.
This community effort was started as a means to help the poor and displaced migrant communities in San Francisco to start simple food business operations. They help provide a range of services and advice and even have a central kitchen for these folks. The cost of food business is notoriously high in America and La Cocina provides start up platforms to help them move on to bigger goals.
Mr Koh Seng Choon started Dignity Kitchen with his own money and no experience in the culinary business, with just one goal in mind- to help physically and some mentally challenged folks get back on their feet and regain their dignity. He took up this food court space in east in Singapore, told the community he will help (with assistance from good hearted friends) anyone displaced and disadvantaged by teaching them street food skills so they can operate a stall in the food court and earn money. It is rent free and profit share for operations. His biggest challenge is to teach the physically challenged something as unique as street food operations. He was recently given funding and a license by the Singapore government to run a street food academy.
Street Food Blogger / Writer: Michael R Aquino
Criteria: Addresses multi-faceted issues and engages a wide, active and supportive audience. Deliver deep vision and insightful aspects of this food culture that attracts curiosity and is informative for the general public at large.
Michael R Aquino, of About.com
Mike Aquino is a particularly inquisitive writer, as all good ones should be. He pens his blogs and articles on about.com and has a reach of 67 million (at last count) and still growing. His articles touch on real aspects of life, travel, living and comfort street food. He also contributes to Yahoo, Good Housekeeping and Smart Parenting. He is also particularly active on social media engines and platforms. He touches on aspects of subjects of his pet topics, especially food, only if he has clear commentary or story to tell. Mike often goes beyond the first few “lapis” or surface of the famous layered cake on his musings. Ask him about eating cow’s brains and he’s got a story as well.
Best Street Food Café: Immigrants Gastrobar/ Issaya Siamese Club/ Lion City Restaurant
Criteria: Has unique modern character yet showcases the culinary heritage and culture of the city/country.
1. Immigrants Gastrobar, Singapore
467 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore
Damien D Silva shelved his western culinary training and experience to go back to his roots as a Eurasian kid growing up in Singapore amidst flavours from the migrant Indian, Chinese, Malays, Nonya Peranakans and their won Eurasian food culture. He took the best of it and now installed them in his Immigrants Gastrobar in Singapore and offer well-loved icons like ngoh hiang, lo kai yik beef rendang, Chicken 65 and singgang in little old-school enamel pots and plates. He pitches them with a full bar that has a nice collection of fine single malt whiskeys and wines. This is a space that comfort street food purveyors can move in with just some imagination.
2. Issaya Siamese Club, Thailand
4 Soi Sri Aksorn, Chuaphloeng Rd., Bangkok, Thailand
Thailand’s Iron Chef Ian Kittichai returned home after extensive gigs at top Michelin starred restaurants under legends like Chef Ferran Adria (El Bulli) and Chef Thomas Keller (French Laundry). He took the spirit of such establishments and set up Issaya Siamese Club, a Thai street food eatery in an old conserved wooden French colonial bungalow in the heart of Bangkok. He offers peasant fare like fried wild rice with barley and nuts and imaginatively laced it with drops of truffle oil. This man is giving Thai street food a new reputation; that it can come in any setting so long as one has the skills and mastery of Thai street food culture.
3. Lion City Restaurant, Vietnam 92 Le Duan, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi, Vietnam
They are Vietnam based and took the iconic teppanyaki hotplate station out of context – by offering street fare from South East Asia, complete with showy cooks and deceptively funny servers. They flip, tossed, turn and set the teppanyaki table alight just to heat, burn and sear a range of street chow including their signature chilli crabs, sambal prawns, mee goreng and nasi goreng.
More information can be found at: www.wsfcongress.com