Food

'Very stressed': Owner of Song Fish Soup feels some pressure after earning Bib Gourmand for 1st time


When the owner of Song Fish Soup, Song Dehe (transliteration), first knew that his stall had been recognised with a Michelin Bib Gourmand this year, he admitted to feeling “very stressed”.

“It’s fine if you do well, but if you don’t, people may not tell you directly, and they may also think that the piece of certification is fake,” said Dehe, 48, in an interview with Chinese news site 8world.

He also told Shin Min Daily News that he didn’t know that the stall had gotten the award until his customers informed him about it.

According to 8world, Dehe estimates that his stall sells close to 400 bowls of fish soup a day, and there are several loyal elderly customers who patronise the stall daily.

One of them, an 83-year-old woman, was seen patiently sitting outside the stall at 4.30pm, waiting for Dehe to resume business at 5pm.

“She is here every day, for close to eight years. She only orders sliced fish bee hoon soup. There are also two more uncles in their 80s who will definitely come every day,” Dehe told 8world.

The stall opens from 10.30am to 8pm, with a break from 2pm to 5pm.

With the hard work that comes with being a hawker, Dehe believes that preserving one’s health is important.

“No matter how many customers there are, we make sure to open the shop on time…and close on time! Health is most important, so we shouldn’t exhaust ourselves.”

Dehe, who has three children, also shared that his youngest son has shown interest in cooking and might be the most likely contender to take over his business. And the eight-year-old has even told him so.

Said Dehe: “I feel comforted to hear him say this, but I wouldn’t want my children to be too tired. Being a hawker is a tough job!” 

Dehe has been a hawker for more than 20 years, moving from Tampines to his present location in Clementi 448 Market & Food Centre 11 years ago. Song Fish Soup was recently awarded their first Bib Gourmand on June 18, 2024.

The list, released by Michelin Guide Singapore, highlights notable hawker establishments and casual eateries.

Dehe revealed to 8world that he had developed the fish soup recipe with a partner and stated two requirements for a delicious bowl of fish soup.

First of all, the ingredients, especially when it comes to seafood, have to be fresh. Then there would be no need for any special seasoning or marinades. Secondly, the soup should be refreshing and naturally sweet-tasting without leaving one thirsty at the end.

Speaking to Shin Min, he expressed how he’s aware that people have varying tastebuds and his fish soup might not please everyone. But now that he has gotten the recognition, he feels a certain amount of pressure to maintain the reputation and quality of his food.

However, he added that he won’t be affected too much by it as he always strives to do his best.

“My customer base here are mostly regulars, and there’s a queue every day. Winning the award won’t affect me too much personally as I have to do my best in cooking for my customers anyway,” he said.

ALSO READ: I try 9 new Michelin Bib Gourmand stalls to see if they’re worth the hype

candicecai@asiaone.com



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