Malaysian couple use life savings to run sambal petai stall, drawing fans including Edmund Chen, Lifestyle News

Running a hawker stall is undoubtedly challenging, but that didn’t stop a Malaysian couple from diving headfirst into the food-and-beverage business.

In an interview with Shin Min Daily News, Perak natives Lily Ting, a former fashion sales representative, and her husband Cheng Jiang Choong, a full-time truck driver, shared how they took the plunge to run hawker stall Dao Xiang at Changi Village Food Centre.

Veering away from the usual local fare like chicken rice and char kway teow, Lily said she borrowed her grandmother’s petai recipe and made it the stall’s speciality.

The idea of entering the hawker scene came about in 2020. The couple invested their life savings into the stall, which has a monthly rental of $4,588, Shin Min Daily News reported.

The report also mentioned that their bid of $4,588 is the highest among the stalls at Changi Village Food Centre.

Chen professed that their high bid was due to a lack of experience and uncertainty on typical rental costs of a hawker stall.

Having opened for business in March, the stall faced a slow start in the first four months. According to the couple, sambal petai rice did not resonate with locals since the dish is only commonly found in Peranakan restaurants.

Despite the initial setback, their persistence paid off, and Dao Xiang gained momentum eight months later, garnering a loyal customer base, including veteran actor Edmund Chen.

In a recent interview, Lily shared that Edmund is a frequent visitor, praising their sambal petai rice as the best he has ever tasted.

Even Edmund’s daughter is a fervent fan of the dish.

The star attraction at Dao Xiang is undeniably the sambal petai fried rice ($7.90), complemented by a menu featuring curry chicken with rice ($5.50), sesame oil chicken with rice ($5.50), herbal duck mian xian ($7), nasi lemak ($5) and prawn fritters ($1.60).

For enthusiasts of sambal petai, a standalone plate can be ordered, with prices starting from $7.

The life of a hawker is not easy

Just last friday (Nov 10), Gen Z hawker Amita Eng, owner of a Thai food stall in Clementi, took to the Facebook group Hawkers United – Dabao 2020 last Friday (Nov 10) to share her concerns about the low customer footfall for her stall.

In her post, the 22-year-old hawker wrote that even though they usually have a steady flow of customers, business at the stall had been rather quiet lately, citing the holiday season as a possible factor.

Despite her efforts to bring in more customers through regular social-media posts and the introduction of special deals, like the Family Feasts package, she was frustrated at the ineffectiveness of her marketing strategies.

But then netizens chimed in, offering valuable advice to help Amita tide through the slow business season, such as sharing strategies for targeted marketing or offering discounts.

ALSO READ: Chef leaves behind children in Ipoh to open charcoal-roasted meat stall at Jalan Berseh

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