Tian Tian Lai Nasi Lemak shutters business after 22 years

Tian Tian Lai Nasi Lemak shutters business after 22 years
Owner Mr Chen Han Bin said that he and his wife Madam Fu Li Xin started Tian Tian Lai Nasi Lemak at a stall in Alexandra Road.
PHOTO: Shin Min Daily News

After 22 years of running Tian Tian Lai Nasi Lemak, the stall owners are hanging up their aprons.

Chen Han Bin, 62, and his wife Fu Li Xin, 58, closed their stall at Marsiling Mall Hawker Centre on Nov 28, Shin Min Daily News reported.

"We're getting on in age, and the costs of running the business have gone up, so we decided to retire," Chen said.

Worried that customers would flock to the stall for one last meal, the couple chose not to announce the closure, and only informed a few regular customers who didn't live near the stall.

Self-taught hawker

While he ran a hawker stall for over two decades, Chen actually started out as an engineer.

But he also had dreams to start his own business.

"Rather than making money for other people's pockets, I'd rather earn money for my own pocket," he said.

Since he loves nasi lemak, he decided to become a hawker, purchasing different recipes with his wife to experiment at home.

He said: "To me, cooking is just like doing a chemistry experiment."

The couple opened their first stall in Alexandra Road, but lost over $70,000 within the first six months.

Despite the rocky start, he persevered with his wife's encouragement and they shifted their stall to Woodlands Centre Road Food Centre in 2001.

With multiple taste tests and accumulation of experiences, their business started to get on track.

When the food centre closed in 2012, Chen and his wife went on hiatus and he went back to working as an engineer.

As Fu was mostly idling at home, they decided to re-open their nasi lemak stall at Marsiling Mall Hawker Centre in 2018.

Flavorful nasi lemak

When asked if they have any secret recipe to their nasi lemak, Chen smiled and shared that his recipe was made through experiences and not by measurements of ingredients.

On Google reviews, Tian Tian Lai Nasi Lemak had a 4.1 rating with 25 reviews.

One customer rated the dish as the "best nasi lemak in Singapore" for its savoury rice and good chili.

Another customer wrote: "Fried chicken drumstick was freshly fried and was warm and juicy inside. The rice was quite fragrant and their sambal chilli was not spicy but it was so flavourful and goes well with the rice.

"I wish I could stay near this hawker so I can eat it everyday!"

ALSO READ: End of an era: Singapore's first ever Jollibee at Lucky Plaza to move out after 10 years

yeo.shuhui@asiaone.com

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