Mr Chua Ah Nan, 61, was preparing the ingredients for braising the duck meat when MyQueenstown Team arrived at 2am. Chilli sauce was poured into a traditional vat while spring onion was chopped and placed into a plastic container. Then, Mr Chua sat on the bench outside his hawker stall patiently while waiting for the duck to be ready.
Waking up at 12am and coming to the hawker stall to prepare braised duck has been a routine for Mr Chua for the past 41 years. "Tanglin Halt Delicious Duck Noodle" or 东陵福美味鸭面 was established by Mr Chua's father-in-law 46 years ago. It started out as an itinerant hawker at Teochew Street in Clark Quay where Mr Chua's wife would assist her father in selling braised duck to coolies and workers. Mr Chua's father-in-law was an expert in making delicious braised duck and he taught Mr Chua to use duck bones and herbs in the braised sauce before simmering the duck over a small fire for 3 hours.
"I had to make a living," was what Mr Chua explained when we asked him why he would rather sacrifice his sleep or have such an irregular sleeping time. A few years ago, he used to open his stall during evenings. However, there was a change in meal preference in Tanglin Halt and residents hardly go out to hawker centres in the evening and at night for meals any more.