A pair of 25-year-old NTU engineering students open bak chor mee stall in Ang Mo Kio coffeeshop

Third-generation young hawkers carrying a 54-year legacy.

Julia Yeo | September 21, 2019, 02:30 AM

Two guys from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) decided the nine-to-five life was not for them -- so they started selling bak chor mee in Ang Mo Kio instead.

Ivan Tan and Ong Chun Siang, both 25 years old, are third-generation hawkers, and the successors of Quan Ji Teochew Mee, founded in 1965.

This is what they're serving at Block 260 Ang Mo Kio Street 21, Stall 6.
Photo via Quan Ji Teochew Mee

Other than bak chor mee, they've also added laksa to their menu, exclusive to their newly-opened Ang Mo Kio branch.

Laksa. Photo via Quan Ji Teochew Mee/FB

Quan Ji Teochew Mee is barely a month old, but it's already been gaining popularity among Ang Mo Kio residents.

Took a year off university to start business

Tan, one of the co-owners of Quan Ji, took a year off his studies in NTU to get the business going.

He inherited the stall's name from his wife's grandfather, who started the bak chor mee business in 1965, located originally in Bedok.

According to Shin Min Daily News, Tan, who studies Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE) in NTU, will resume his studies in August 2020.

His fellow business partner, Ong, is a fresh graduate from the same course of study as Tan.

The two were both members of the EEE club in NTU, where they worked in events planning together and became friends, according to Shin Min.

The two of them decided to work together with Tan's brother-in-law, Lee Wei Jian, to open the noodle stall in Ang Mo Kio.

Lee Wei Jian (left),Ivan Tan (mid), Ong Chun Siang (right). Photo via Ivan Tan

Working 16 hours a day, waking up at 4am

To set up their business, they needed to hone their craft and learn from Quan Ji's owners in Bedok.

The second generation of the family business has been running the stall in Bedok.

This meant that they had to wake up at 4am every day, as they still had school.

Eventually, they opened their stall in Ang Mo Kio on July 28, working up to 16 hours a day to run their business.

Faced opposition from parents, but still persisted

Before they decided to embark on this business, both of their parents opposed their idea.

Like how many other concerned parents would be, they questioned why their children wouldn't take up regular office jobs, especially when they were studying in university.

After all, working as a hawker and running a business was a lot harder than a stable career as an engineer.

According to Shin Min, the duo's parents still remained unconvinced about their sons' career choice.

Ong has asked his parents to give him a year's time to prove himself.

He also said to his parents:

"If we don't try to start a business while we're still young, maybe we would lack the mental and physical strength to do it when we're older.

Tan eventually managed to convince his parents to support his choice, and took a loan from them to start the business.

He also promised to return them the money in full within three years.

If you're interested in trying their bak chor mee, here are the details:

Location: Block 260 Ang Mo Kio Street 21, Stall 6

Top image via Ivan Tan, Quan Ji Teochew Mee/FB