It is evident from the popularity of her stall that her business strategy—or, more accurately, ethos—is working. Her patrons range from students freshly dismissed from school and foreign labourers working at nearby construction sites, to austere monks slurping not-so-austere bowls of laksa.

Price alone, however, cannot explain the appeal of her stall. A hawker selling $2 chicken rice might see an initial surge in popularity, but if the chicken is stringy and skimpy, and the rice drowning in tasteless oil, it isn’t likely to last long. 

Brushing my doubts aside, Ping Jie is confident that I will like her food. She is personally behind all the recipes in her stall, having come up with them since she started cooking vegetarian cuisine more than 25 years ago. 

She recalls how, when she opened her stall in Geylang, where we are currently speaking, it was “a place where even birds do not lay eggs”. Yet through word of mouth, it got so popular that Ping Jie took over the whole coffee shop to cater to an ever-growing crowd with her constantly expanding repertoire of dishes. This eventually attracted the attention of Kim San Leng’s boss, who acquired the stall. 

But all these factoids and accolades play no factor in influencing my expert assessment of the food.

The proof is in the png, as they say. So I shovel the dishes into my mouth.





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