Wing Seong Fatty’s Restaurant | Burlington Square, Bencoolen

I’ve switched to the dark sid…I mean, Android.

To be honest, I’ve never considered switching. Don’t get me wrong: Android is a great platform, but its carriers have never impressed me. Then in 2013, China “happened”. From mere whispers, into a movement and into a full-blown phenomenon. China became “cool”, at least from a smartphone perspective. You had brands like Xiaomi with its affordable phones, user-friendly interface and grassroots-centric marketing. On the flip side, there was Oppo which realized being a copycat wasn’t going to get it anywhere. It began unveiling high quality flagship phones, packing them with the latest technology there was to offer. Xiaomi and Oppo were just the tip of this iceberg. We began hearing about OnePlus, Nubia and Smartisan as well, and began questioning the “western” incumbents’ pricing strategy and value.

After months of deliberating (I needed to ascertain that the credibility of these very attractive devices, the most reliable authorized distributor [Oppo’s Singapore flagship store is not yet opened], after-sales support [Incredibly, Oppo, Xiaomi and a few other Chinese brands share the same service centre]), I finally purchased the flagship Oppo Find 7. The price is a little steep for a Chinese brand (still cheaper than most Western brands though), but its specifications definitely hold up to anything that Samsung and Apple will throw at it.

After purchasing my phone, with my brand new phone in hand, it was time to satisfy my hunger pangs. And since I was in the area, I decided to dine at a place that was a blast from the past, Wing Seong Fatty’s restaurant.

My home was not the kind of place you’d raise a child in. Typical of the emerging middle class, my parents weren’t home, and when they were, they turned it into a battleground, literally. You’d think home would be safe haven without the folks around, and you’d be wrong. Unfortunately, the domestic help inherited all my father’s violent and vocal streak (to the unofficial approval of my parents, who knew what was going on and kept their silence, ensuring their approval at her actions), and ensured utter and complete havoc pretty much 24/7.

Even in the horrors of war, there are still tiny bundles of joy, to keep your hope and faith up, and then came in the form of suppers. When the folks bought back suppers, it usually meant that for the brief moment, there was going to be a moment of calm. And for the most part, I enjoyed these twilight picnics in the house. I’m not too sure if it had anything to do with the fact that the domestic help was starving me, and my joy at these suppers was one of satisfying hunger or something. One of the places the folks would buy back from was Wing Seong Fatty’s Restaurant.

Formerly located at a shophouse along Albert Street which today stands the mixed development, The Bencoolen, this restaurant is an instituition for Cantonese cuisine. A former haunt for older generation Singaporean Chinese and Qantas pilots and cabin crew (from the early days with Singapore as a major hub), this restaurant was frequented by tourists and locals alike, who’d come here for birthday and Chinese New Year dinners. Unfortunately, with the pedestrianization of Albert Street, gentrification of the district and its move across the road, Wing Seong Fatty’s Restaurant has not retained its former glory, although it still gets decent local and seasoned tourist crowds who’re still surprised that the establishment they remember from decades ago is still here.

I go for the simply named, “bee hoon”, as a throwback to my childhood suppers. Essentially a vermicelli dish wok stir-fried with a light seafood gravy, it’s simple, hearty and just a tad delicious. It’s not Michelin-grade by any means, nor is it even the best zhi-char style bee hoon available, but there’s a hint of the greatness that was once there. And for me, that’s good enough.

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