Can chope table with tissue? Fann Wong and Li Nanxing talk about their hawker centre habits

Much has been said about our common love for Singapore's hawker centres and local food. But the perennial question for some of us is this: is it okay to chope a table with tissue paper (or the equivalent)?

We asked local celebrities Fann Wong and Li Nanxing the tongue-in-cheek question and the 50-year-old actress told AsiaOne she will go with the flow since "everybody does it", though it's not something she does herself.

She added: "I chope tables by sitting there… the old-school way."

Meanwhile, Nanxing, 57, admitted to reserving tables and has used his car keys as a reservation token. He even calls the habit part of our hawker culture.

The two veterans were chatting with us to promote their new song Our Dining Hall, which also features Julie Tan, Shane Pow, Vivian Lai, Vincent Ng, Constance Song, Luo Kemin and Rayson Tan.

The catchy ditty, released today and supported by the Federation of Merchants' Associations, is a tribute to Singapore's hawker culture on the first anniversary of its addition to Unesco's Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Li Nanxing orders three plates of food just for himself


Actor-chef Nanxing loves his hawker food and can be found at Ghim Moh Food Centre three to five times a week.

He admitted he often can't make up his mind on what to order and would walk from one end of the hawker centre to the other trying to decide. Most times, he would look at what other diners are having.

"Eventually, I would buy a few dishes to eat there and then I'd tabao what I can't finish. This way, I won't regret not eating anything and I would feel satisfied," he said. There have been times when he ordered three plates for himself.

His top five favourite dishes? Fried carrot cake, bak chor mee, fried Hokkien noodles, cai png (must have fish with gravy or curry) and yong tau foo.

And if you're at Ghim Moh Food Centre, he recommends you try the fried carrot cake, braised duck, fried kway teow, curry chicken and cai png there.

If he were to start a hawker stall, he told us he would sell cai png.

"Even if it's a lot of work, I will cook the dishes that I've learnt. Everyone has different tastes and it's difficult satisfying everyone. I will cook a lot of different dishes and there'll be something for everyone."

Fann Wong: A lot of happy vibes at hawker centres


Some of you might remember the old Satay Club located at Queen Elizabeth Walk from 1970 to 1995. For Fann, it was a place that still carries special memories for her.

"We used to go there for satay and it had a very comfortable feel because it was close to the sea. There were many satay stalls to choose from and the environment was very colourful. It was such an enjoyment to be there," she recalled.

These days, she would naturally be recognised in public and diners will come up and chat with her.

"I like going to hawker centres because there are a lot of happy vibes there. I'm happy when the public talk to me because they are very bubbly. It's like meeting old friends."


And like Nanxing, Fann sometimes finds herself with a lot of food because she just wants a little of everything. Most of the time, if she knows which hawker centre she's going to, she would eat the dishes that she likes — rojak, fried Hokkien mee, char siew rice, prawn noodles and nasi lemak — from the popular stalls there.

But, she goes to specific hawker centres depending on her craving. If she wants nasi lemak, she will go to Adam Road Food Centre. If it's rojak she wants, it's off to the one at Whampoa or Toa Payoh.

When asked about her favourite thing about the song Our Dining Hall, Fann said: "It feels very happy and the rhythm is catchy. The songwriter Harry Yap is amazing because he managed to include every delicious hawker dish name into the lyrics. Some parts of the song are wordy but we managed it and we have to give credit to everyone."

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