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Union Chee Pow Kai reopened on Dec. 8 in a coffeeshop along Toh Guan Road.
The old-school eatery, famous for its paper-wrapped chicken, used to be based in Clementi until 2017 and has a long history of over 60 years.
Loyal customers convinced him to continue
60-year-old owner Xie En Rong (name in hanyu pinyin) told Shin Min Daily News he and his family were getting old and wanted to retire.
He said that it was the loyal customers who have patronised his stall for decades that convinced him to persevere.
For example, one of his customers who lives nearby comes to eat paper-wrapped chicken with her grandfather every month.
"Just three or four months ago, the girl's grandfather passed away. The girl came by to takeaway my paper-wrapped chicken on two separate occasions -- on the day of his death and the day of his funeral -- to pay respects to and remember him.
Even though her grandfather is no longer here, she still patronises my stall every month. It is stories like these that move me deeply and give me the strength to keep going.”
Sells out almost every day
He revealed that he has known many of his regular customers since the 1960s, with the oldest one being 94 years old.
"Sometimes they give me biscuits and desserts, and even red envelopes during Chinese New Year. Many of them brought their children here to eat when they were young, and later brought their grandchildren here to eat. I feel touched to see these generations."
In the past week that the store has been open, Xie sells 250 to 300 packs of paper-wrapped chicken every day, almost all of which would sell out.
He revealed that because regular customers have been making reservations by phone, he is sold out of paper-wrapped chickens on Dec. 17 and Christmas Eve.
Some customers are even making reservations ahead for New Year's Eve and Lunar New Year, he added.
Refuses to raise prices despite inflation
Behind the scenes, Xie recruits the help of his four relatives to make the paper-wrapped chickens by hand.
His two aunts and two sisters, who are in their 70s, inherited the secret recipe from Xie's father.
"We are getting on our years and our hands and legs are no longer as nimble as before. To maintain our father's standards, we spend a lot of time slowly and carefully making the paper-wrapped chicken, so our customers can enjoy the heart-warming and familiar taste."
Despite the rising costs of chicken, flour, gas and cooking oil, Xie refuses to raise prices. He says he is doing this to look after his regular customers.
"At the start of this year I raised the price of each packet by 20 cents. After the Russian-Ukraine war and the chicken shortage, I didn't increase the price. As long as the loyal customers are happy and I can break even, that's all that I need."
Union Chee Pow Kai
Address: 267A Toh Guan Road #01-01 Singapore 601267
Opening hours: Thursdays to Sundays, 11:30am to 4pm or until sold out
Top images by Shin Min and Mr Ho/Google Maps.
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