In the evening, a tricycle appears beside the main road of Sungai Chua heading towards Kajang town, and disappears as the skies darken, passer-bys may not notice it without paying close attention. A grey canvas is propped up to protect the stallowner and the stack of bamboo steamers from unpleasant weather. Upon lifting the lid, the mouthwatering aroma of various handmade bao wafts through the vapour.
Each morning, the preparation of ingredients, mixing fillings, dough fermenting, bao wrapping and steaming are all done by Uncle Wong Seng Kit’s own hands, with the assistance of his wife. Despite the toilsome procedures, they persisted in making and selling fresh bao every day, without leaving anything overnight. As Uncle Wong is now in his seventies, to avoid negative impact on their health, the scale of daily bao production is adjusted according to their capabilities. The quantity of handmade bao is very limited, it is up to luck whether or not one get to taste it.
Nicknamed “the Bao uncle”, Wong Seng Kit is the second generation operator of the tricycle bao stall. His father used to cook in a Hainanese coffee shop, afterwards in 1962 he started his own business as a mobile hawker selling bao. In daytime, the entire family cooperated in making bao, then in the evening they would push two tricycle stalls onto the hill of Sungai Chua and beside the main road respectively. Later at night, they would operate in Kajang town outside the two big cinemas. Due to changes impacted by township urbanization, it became impossible for tricycles to pass through elevated highways, therefore they settled to operate at a fixed location near home.
During his youth, Uncle Wong worked in Sabah. After his marriage, he set up his own machinery factory which unfortunately went bankrupt in the global financial crisis of the 1980s. Upon returning home, he got back into the production of handmade bao, whereby he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps, with his wife willingly supporting him. Uncle Wong not only inherited his father’s skills, but also the recipes and tricycle stalls (now the third one in use), now an icon on the streets of Kajang.
For decades, Uncle Wong and family are accustomed to the lifestyle of making bao in the daytime and selling in the evening. The stall is usually open around 6PM, and the handmade bao are sold out between 45 minutes to two and a half hours. In the past two years, due to Covid-19 related restrictions, opening hours are rescheduled to 4.30PM. Technology advancement contribute to changes in business model, where customers may opt to drive through or place phone orders to their convenience.
Uncle Wong, pushing his tricycle bao stall, leads a simple and stable life. Instead of chasing after wealth, he wishes for family happiness and health. The skin of his hands are rough due to constant exposure to high heat, to which he has build up a certain level of tolerance. His passion and adherence to food quality did not evaporate over time. Take a bite of steaming hot handmade bao, sample the fresh taste of simplicity, fill the heart with endless warmth.
有你 UNI Production
Producer : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang / Michael Lerk
Drone : Daniel Lim
Video Editor : Michael Lerk
Copywriter : Pua Hui Wen
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