This week TANGS managed to sit down with The Fei Siong Group’s Managing Director, Tan Kim Siong.
Founded in 1993, what started out as a simple stall in a popular hawker centre outside the former National Library has now grown to become an iconic, must-eat fishball noodle dish in Singapore and around South East Asia. Many years, expansions and reinventions later, The Fei Siong Group has established itself as one of the nation's many success stories within our local food scene.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
As somebody who loves life, eating and meeting people are synonymous to me. I also enjoy learning about innovative food concepts that combine old and new. I like to exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as it is part of my job to constantly try new recipes with my chef.
What’s constantly on your mind?
I'm always working to improve my restaurants, whether it be the food offered, level of service or our environment.
Did you have a food mentor or inspiration?
My grandfather was my mentor! I literally fell in love with his fishball noodles, a famous Teochew dish.
What motivated you?
When I was 13, I started learning how to cook from my grandfather, who owned a stall at Redhill Hawker Centre. I was very inspired by him when I spent those precious weekends and holidays helping out.
What food culture inspires you?
Hawker food and its heritage!
What South East Asian flavour inspires you?
Street food from Hong Kong and Malaysia – they provide inspiration and interesting ideas such as preparing a ‘UK’ duck using the Hong Kong cooking style.
What’s the most important ingredient in your kitchen?
FRESH FISH! It’s the main ingredient and where the success of my recipe lies! When I’m overseas I like to visit the local fish markets to compare the freshness and to see what’s available.
How do you see Singapore Cuisine changing in the future?
I believe that we will continue to patronise hawker centres as it is part of our lifestyle and a community reference point.
You have many F&B establishments, which project are you most proud of and why?
I’m very proud of the TANGS Market! We've created a contemporary-style hawker centre within an iconic Singapore specialty store and a great meeting point where tourists and locals can discover the best of Singapore cuisine and shopping.
Have you ever thought about writing a book of all the traditional hawker recipes you have collected over the years?
Not at all! I’m far too busy with my restaurants to put pen to paper.
Do you have a favourite dish at TANGS Market?
Fishball noodles, of course!
With so much outward support to maintain Singapore's Cuisine Heritage, do you have time for any other social causes?
I have been training young entrepreneurs on how to manage and set up their own businesses. I'd like to see them have a good start and a positive experience to help our Singapore Food scene thrive.
What are your thoughts and plans for 2016?
Location is the key to success, so we plan to expand the business in Singapore by opening new outlets in the best locations.