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New York's 1st Singapore hawker food centre to open near Times Square on Sep 28

Called Urban Hawker, the food hall spearheaded by Makansutra’s KF Seetoh boasts stalls that include Peranakan restaurant Daisy’s Dream, Hainan Jones' chicken rice, Malay and Indonesian cafe Padi@Bussorah and Indian stall Mamak’s Corner. 

New York's 1st Singapore hawker food centre to open near Times Square on Sep 28

New Yorkers will soon get a taste of good food from (from left) burger joint Ashes Burnnit, Malay and Indonesian cafe Padi@Bussorah and prawn noodle soup purveyors Prawnaholic. (Photos: Instagram)

The ubiquitous hawker centre, found all over Singapore, has finally landed in New York City.

According to KF Seetoh’s Instagram post on Tuesday (Sep 20), Urban Hawker – as the new food market is named – will soft open to the public on Sep 21 at 135 West 50th Street, just a few blocks from Times Square in Manhattan. The official opening date is set for Sep 28.

Urban Hawker is spearheaded and curated by Seetoh, founder of Makansutra and widely known as the Singapore street food expert and ambassador. It boasts 17 vendors, 11 of whom come directly from Singapore and who have flown over to set up shop in the 14,000 sq ft space with a seating capacity of 200.

“When something happens in New York City, the world takes note and our hawkers are something we are proud to show off,” Seetoh told New York Daily News.

He also said in an interview with Men's Journal that it was a challenge to recruit a team of hawkers to relocate to New York City, but he eventually found “a good selection of young and slightly older” cooks. 

Urban Hawker was an idea that first started when Seetoh met the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain at the World Street Food Congress in Singapore in 2013. Bourdain, who died in 2018, had reached out to Seetoh to set up an “Anthony Bourdain Market” in New York that would showcase hawker food.

The Urban Hawker food hall will soft open on Sep 21, 2022. (Photo: Ginnie Teo)

Seetoh told online portal that he has spent years working on Urban Hawker, determined to introduce the popular Singaporean tradition to the rest of the world.

“I have always believed that our hawker food will be well-liked by the world. Why? Because it’s just good, humble heritage fare that the world will love, too,” he said.

According to a post on the Makansutra website, the vendors from Singapore are: Wok & Staple by Dragon Phoenix, Malay burger hawker Ashes Burnnit, Peranakan restaurant Daisy’s Dream; chicken rice from Hainan Jones, Malay and Indonesian cafe Padi@Bussorah, Indian stall Mamak’s Corner, Sembawang’s famed White beehoon chain, mod coffee stall Kopifellas, Hokkien-style prawn noodle soup joint Prawnaholic, Hainanese Western grill Smokin’ Joe and Mr Fried Rice.

Other reports have added that Urban Hawker will also feature NYC’s first Southeast Asian pastry shop, Lady Wong, and gin-focused cocktail spot, Jakarta Munch.

Indeed, Urban Hawker is looking to open with a big and meaningful bang. Seetoh posted on Instagram on Sep 19 that the Singapore hawkers at Urban Hawker were “happy to hire (those looking for jobs) if they are keen and allowed”. He included the email address where interested parties can get in touch. 

Source: CNA/gl