Cleaner and brighter: People’s Park Food Centre welcomes upgrading to shed ‘dirty’ image

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SINGAPORE – Roast meat chef Wong Fook Choy is looking forward to his “revenge travel” in the next three months. His ambitious itinerary includes Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and a cruise.

Other than Chinese New Year and Mondays, he has been slogging away in front of his chopping board for years, said the 62-year-old from O Kee Roast Delight at People’s Park Food Centre.

He was head chef of the famous Toh Kee Roast Duck, Singapore’s oldest roast meat stall, for 46 years at the same venue before the business was sold to O Kee about three years ago.

“Look at the broken floor tiles, tables and stools,” he said, of the state of maintenance of the food centre. “We could have upgraded earlier, but I heard plans were shelved due to the (Covid-19) pandemic.”

The popular food centre at Block 32, New Market Road will be closed for three months from April 1 to June 30 for repairs and redecoration.

Like Mr Wong, most hawkers and patrons say the upgrading is long overdue. The bustling food centre near Chinatown MRT station shows glaring signs of age.

Mr Yu Jun Jie, 53, a stall helper at Chuan Wei Fang, known for its Chongqing grilled fish and spicy crab, said when it pours, the clogged drains cause flooding.

Regular patrons said the grimy floors and dim interiors need sprucing up. In recent years, the food centre has also earned a “dirty” reputation after sightings of rats and cockroaches.

“I only come here in the day, and that’s after I had cockroaches and rats dining with me at night,” said tour manager Elaine Chang, 58.

Ms Lynn Teo, a 49-year-old travel agent, found the pigeons a nuisance.

“They help themselves to the food the minute you get up,” she said. “You can see their droppings all over the place.”

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