About Truly Curry Rice
Update: Truly Curry Rice has moved to #07-05, 153 Kampong Ampat, Jun Jie Industrial Building, Singapore 326328.
Most young Singaporeans would balk at the idea of leaving a cushy, stable career in the financial industry to join the brutal F&B industry. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons for the declining hawker trade in Singapore, there just isn’t much new blood.
Meet Joel and Deniece. 6 months ago they left their brokerage jobs to pursue their food business and it’s not what you would expect it to be. Amidst the growing cafe culture in Singapore, they stand out because they belong to a rare breed of young hawkers, forgoing all facades and any kind of pretentiousness.
They specialise in simple and straightforward Hainanese Curry Rice dishes which are particularly popular with the older generation.
Located in a hawker centre in Telok Blangah, Truly Curry Rice serves up a homely mix of traditional dishes such as Ngoh Hiang, Pork Chop and Chap Chye, alongside generous servings of Curry Rice. Here are some highlights of the food we tried.
The Ngoh Hiang served is hand-made, with a crisp exterior and filled with liberal portions of prawn, pork and various vegetables.
The Eggplant was served with hae bee hiam (spicy dried shrimp sambal), a combination that went very well together. The Eggplant retained some bite to it, and its slight sweetness was complementary to the spice.
The staple, Curry Rice (first pic), was impressive. The rice was fragrant and the curry was full-bodied while having just the right amount of heat, both melding well together.
Interview with Joel and Deniece
When Joel and Deniece talk about their food, it is clear that they are truly invested in their little labour of love, translating their passion into the most delectable dishes they can muster. It looks like it is paying off – though they started just six months ago, there is a seemingly never-ending stream of customers during peak hours.
Q: Did you hesitate when making the decision to leave your jobs initially?
Joel: There was no hesitation whatsoever. There are two words to describe it: “passion” and “opportunity”. We saw the chance so we took it. Our families were also supportive of our choice, so we went in wholeheartedly.
Q: What are some of the difficulties you guys have encountered making the industry switch?
Deniece: For me, the job was really physically tiring. Getting up at 4 A.M., having to manually prepare all the food and chopping everything up – that was the toughest part.
Joel: I think our personalities have been shaped by our previous experiences, so we are the same people now as we were then. We try and we work as hard as we did in our previous jobs in order to keep pursuing our passion now.
Q: What inspired you guys to specifically specialise in curry rice?
Joel: Deniece’s dad actually owned the hawker stall preceding our current one. He sold curry rice, so naturally when we decided to take over the reins, that was what we stayed true to. However, we constantly experimented with the menu before finalising the dishes that we sell today.
Deniece’s dad sold Yong Tau Foo as well, so we dabbled in that, trying to hand-make everything, but eventually we decided to stick to what we do best.
Q: What is your typical work day like?
Deniece: We start the day at about 4 A.M., preparing the various dishes for the day. When we open the stall and begin selling food, time passes by very quickly, especially during the lunch hour. We usually sell out by about 1 P.M. on weekdays, and then we start preparing some of the ingredients for the next day. Our work day typically ends at around 3 to 5 P.M.
Q: What separates your food from other hawkers’?
Deniece: From the long hours of marinating meat, chopping the vegetables, making sure everything is fresh and nothing is processed or from a can, a lot of labour goes into making our food. I think it is a pity that Singaporeans are so accustomed to eating processed food – we’re fine with a plate of beehoon and a slice of luncheon meat for breakfast.
A lot of people may think that the work and effort we put into our food is not worth it when we could be saving time and money with ready-to-cook items, but we want to serve quality dishes.
Joel: We believe in the “truly” philosophy. We want to serve dishes that remind us of our roots. The hawker culture is something that is increasingly being lost but I think that it will never die, as it is so steeped in Singapore’s society. We want to bring old school food back.
Interested in trying Joel and Deniece’s fare?
Head on down to Truly Curry Rice for a hearty meal. Even though a queue starts forming at around 12:15 P.M., Joel and Deniece dole out dishes quickly, so the waiting time is minimal. Just make sure you reach there before they sell out!
It’s great to see young, well educated hawkers take over the reigns from their parents and we wish Joel and Deniece all the best!
Truly Curry Rice
- Address:: 79 Telok Blangah Drive, #01-29
- Opening Hours: Mondays – Fridays: 10:45 A.M. – Sold Out (Around 1 P.M.+)
Saturdays – Sundays: 10:00 A.M. – Sold Out (Around 1 P.M.+)
- Nearest MRT: Telok Blangah
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Disclosure: Media Invitation