KF Seetoh, founder of the World Street Food Congress, has joined forces with national food hall developer Urbanspace to open the first authentic Singaporean hawker center in the United States right here in New York City.
The market, located on the ground floor of a large, converted office building at 135 W 50th St, will open in early 2022 and is a must-see for all street-food lovers.
The market features 18 different vendors all hand-picked by Seetoh, who has a long history in the food industry beginning as a photojournalist and food storyteller, and more recently hosting food shows on the Asian Food Channel and Discovery as well as judging on Master Chef and Top Chef.
“It’s been my life's work to celebrate hawker food,” said Seetooh. For those unfamiliar with the term, hawker centers are vibrant communal food markets where Singaporeans gather to dine and socialize.
Seetoh and his organization Makansutra, which is dedicated to the celebration and preservation of Asian food, culture and lifestyle, were instrumental in encouraging the UNESCO World Heritage designation for Singapore Hawker culture in 2020.
“Seetoh’s knowledge of street food culture is unparalleled, globally,” said Eldon Scott, the founder of Urbanspace. “Our market will be a truly special place for New York, and extends our mission of celebrating curation, community and entrepreneurship.”
Some of the participating Singapore UNESCO Hawker coming to New York include:
Ng, a former engineer who left his corporate job for the restaurant world, represents the new generation of young hawkers. Fishball Story’s must-try dish is its eponymous Fish Ball Mee Pok Tah Noodle, a South Chinese Teochew staple with the recipe coming from Ng’s grandmother.
Dragon Phoenix Restaurant by Chris Hooi
Hooi, a seasoned hawker, comes from the family that is credited with creating the iconic version of chili crabs in Singapore over sixty years ago. Chili crab is Singapore’s native seafood dish and can be found at almost every hawker center in the nation.
Ah Tai was the hawker that served Anthony Bourdain his first plate of Hainanese Chicken Rice, Singapore’s national dish, to which Bourdain simply responded: “wow.” With over four decades of experience, Tai will now bring this well-loved dish to New York in its authentic style.