Nam Seng wanton mee founder, 91, closes 60-year business due to Covid-19 & leasing issues

She shut her business at Far East Square in July this year.

Joshua Lee | December 05, 2020, 11:29 AM

Mdm Leong Yeut Meng is 91 years old.

For many years — nearly 60 to be exact — she had been selling wonton mee. She is the founder of Nam Seng Noodle House.

Shut her business at Far East Square

According to CNA, she was one of Singapore's oldest hawkers, if not the oldest, up to the day she shut her business at Far East Square in July this year.

Nam Seng Noodle House used to be outside the National Library at Stamford Road.  60 years ago, she set up the business with money from her late husband.

She learned how to make wonton mee from her cousin, an amah.

According to Leong, there is a meaning behind her stall's name. She said to CNA:

"Nam means Nanyang (Southeast Asia), since we were doing business in Nanyang, and Seng represents a successful business."

Her wonton noodles back then cost S$0.30. It then slowly increased over the years to S$0.50, S$1, and then S$5.

20 years ago, she moved her stall to Far East Square. Aside from wonton mee, she also sold fried rice, venison hor fun and seafood hor fun with the help of a team of workers.

Interestingly, up to the day she closed her business, Leong opted to make her wontons by hand.

Covid-19 pandemic, leasing issues

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent work-from-home arrangements sent her wonton mee demand into steep decline. Sadly, she had to shut down her business in July.

Leong told CNA that her business "dropped drastically overnight".

Even though she would like to maintain the Nam Seng Noodle House brand which she painstakingly build up, it was "very hard" to get it back to where it was pre-pandemic.

Another reason Leong closed her business was because of leasing issues. She said to CNA:

“When I started renting there 20 years ago, the people (building management) were nice. Who knew that they’d change this year and become difficult to talk to?”

You can watch Leong's CNA interview here:


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