SINGAPORE: For the past two days, Madam Vivian Leong has been too busy to make time for her own meals.
But the ban mian seller, whose stall is located in a coffee shop at Holland Close, is not complaining: The crowds of new customers thronging her stall, looking to support, encourage her and try her traditional Hakka-style ban mian, have brought tears of gratitude to her eyes.
This comes after Channel NewsAsia highlighted a story on the single parent’s hard work and determination in overcoming suicidal depression and opening her own ban mian stall with the support of her young daughter. Many people posted comments on the story and accompanying video feature, offering Mdm Leong and her daughter, Ivory, words of encouragement.
On Monday (Dec 4), her ban mian was sold out by 3pm, five hours before her stall usually closes at 8pm. Describing it as her “best day of business” ever, Mdm Leong said she even had to rope in her daughter to help cope with the demand during the busy lunch period.
“Some of them had to wait for very long, because I have to make each bowl of noodles one by one,” she said. “So when I give them their food, I thank them for their patience.
“It’s lunch time, and most of them are office workers. They can go anywhere else for lunch, or even eat at the other stalls here, but they chose to support me,” she added. “I’m so grateful and thankful.”
On average, she sells about 60 bowls of ban mian a day. But by Monday afternoon, she had served more than 100 hungry customers, of which she estimates about 85 per cent were new faces. The lunch-time queue, she added, stretched all the way out of the coffee shop.
“They tell me they came here because they saw my story online, and wanted to support me,” she said. “Some of them say my daughter is very good to help me, and when I thank them, one of them actually told me, no, I should be thanking you.”
When Channel NewsAsia visited at around 1pm on Tuesday (Dec 5), the crowd was still evident in the coffee shop, and it was looking to be an even busier day for Mdm Leong, who had prepared enough ingredients to make 200 bowls of ban mian.
Customers were waiting patiently in line to try her ban mian, and some were seen taking pictures of the stall or of her food. One customer, Rafael Mayoral, also went up to shake her hand and asked to take a picture with her.
“I came here for two reasons,” he said. “My friend recommended the place, and I read her story.”
“It was heartbreaking, but it was also very encouraging. And she sounds like a great person.”
“I loved her ban mian,” he added. “I waited about 15 to 20 minutes, but it was worth it.”
“So I want a picture with her so I can share this with my friend who recommended the place.”
Another customer, Gin Oh, had also made a special trip down with her family to try Mdm Leong’s cooking.
“The food is authentic, and you can tell she uses fresh ingredients and there’s no MSG added,” she said.
“I teared when I read the story, so I wanted to come down and see her. I waited about 20 minutes, but I think Singaporeans in general don’t mind waiting for good food.”