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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Aug 16, 2015

Beancurd Talk

This is an incidental blog inspired by the taste of soya beancurd (豆花) when I stopped over for a bowl of the Wucao soya beancurd in Geylang today.

"Rochor Beancurd House" at Selegie Road is my favorite traditional soya beancurd whenever convenient, but the visit to the Geylang Road branch for the first time for me.  Same good quality, same original tastes and standards over the decades.  The special taste and flavor from Rochor Beancurd House is unique and unmistakable.

However, this blog is not about the (豆花) or "tau huay" in Hokkien as I called it in the Bukit Ho Swee kampong childhood days.

This is about the unique pioneer generation enterprising Singaporean resilient characteristics of an immigrant from a faraway land in China in the 1950s and took roots in Singapore. They brought up their family and children to "breed" another generation of younger Singaporeans.

I noticed an article (shown above) on the wall of the shop and would like to share this on the blog.

A 50 years journey
Every step leaves its print

During the 1950s, a 12-year-old boy named Xu Kunming travelled from China to Pulau Tekong on his own.  With the help of an uncle, he reunited with his parents.  They worked as fishermen.

Although Xu Kunming was young, he was intelligent.  He received an education while helping his father.  Due to low income, the family was poor.  This situation remained for three years.

When Xu Kunming was 15 years old, he stopped schooling due to financial constraints.  The family of three left Pulau Tekong for Singapore island in search for better economic prospects.  Their efforts were rewarded when they started a stall selling soya bean milk and curd beside the Rochor seven-storey mall.  The family worked long hours with the only wish being not having to go hungry.

Despite limited education, Xu Kunming had good business sense.  He thought that failure was the result of inaction.  Therefore, being proactive was better then being passive.

From 1980 onwards, he changed his business strategy and became a travelling hawker.  With a pushcart, he started touting soya bean milk from Rochor Rd to Beach Rd to Balestier Rd.  Though exhausting, this improved the family living standards.

The four-wheel wooden pushcart had a wooden signboard which read "Wucao Soya milk".  This "Wucao Soya milk" gained customer support for its fragrance and good taste.  
In addition, customers praised the bean curd as smooth and tasty.  The results had proven Xu Kunming had adopted the correct business strategy.

Xu Kunming had to assume the responsibility of taking care of his three younger sibilings.

Xu Kunming would ease the burden of his mother by bringing a younger sibling while selling his products.  This sibling would be placed on the cart.  This continued until the siblings started formal schooling.

Xu Kunming has contributed greatly to the upbringing of the Xu family siblings and the reputation of "Wucao Soya milk."

Currently, "Wucao Soya milk" has opened another branch at Balestier Rd.  Putting up a similar signboard along the same road which Xu Kunming had walked as a travelling hawker is indeed meaningful.  He can reminisce about the past and compare it with the present changes.

Till now, Xu Kunming is still doing his best to make "Wucao Soya milk".  He insists on maintaining the soya milk's originality and flavour which has been maintained for the past decades.  His catch phrase is "with the support of the customers, we can do better."

Thank you for your support.

Today, "Wucao Soya milk" has a 3rd generation successor.  He is Xu Kunming's son, Xu Guowei (Jason).  Jason graduated from Queensland University of Technology with a bachelor's degree and major in network security.  This young man is energetic and has inherited his ancestor's diligent attitude.  He has an unique perspective in business.  He manages the stall with 16-hour workdays.  He describes the situation as:

"With the foundation laid by my grandfather and 50 years of diligence from my father, I am responsible for ensuring the continued success of "Wucao Soya milk."

It takes Man to plan but Heaven's blessings to succeed and I have just have to try my best.

Elements such as time, place and people are needed for business seriously and handles human relations well.  With this people element together with the time and place elements created by his forefathers, it is believed he will lead the business to prosper to greater heights.

I thought this is a SG50 Singapore story to share with everyone, not just our pioneer generation friends who understand the meaning of economic hardship, political instability and racial disharmony in Singapore in the early days.

Jason Xu has benefitted from the sacrifices of his father, Xu Kunming and the "Wucao Soya milk" secret family recipes, formula for the success of the business he inherited.  He grew up in an improved Singapore with better education system, an independent nation with political stability, racial harmony and equality regardless of race, language, religion and culture for a better Singapore ..... changes from the past, the present and the future.

From pushcart to Facebook, Jason moved "Wucao Soya milk" traditional business via Internet technology and communication to his customers here .

Rochor Beancurd House (RBH) Branches Drawn by Andrew Yeo

RBH Balestier Road Branch

RBH Thomson Road Branch

RBH Geylang Road Branch

The above 3 photos of the Balestier Road, Thomson Road and Geylang Road branches of the Rochor Beancurd House are the sketches drawn by my international award-winning artist friend, Andrew Yeo Kian Hwee.  

I described him as "a human camera with magical lens captured through his eyes and memories" through his drawings and paintings here .

Thanks to Andrew for his kindness to send me these photos, unsolicited.  It was as if he read my mind to get some pictures of the RBH branches ...  maybe through ESP (Extra Sensory Perception :)

What a pleasant surprise and I am pleased to update the blog to share with everyone.  Much appreciated, Andrew.

From the pictures, we noticed that the RBH shops are simple and practical furnishing stuff without aircond, piped-in music in the shop, fanciful decorations and designs to attract customers.  This is the humble and honest characteristics for business.  The best stuff in RBH is the "real thing" without the needs of imaginative, creative product names.  "Tau huay" is "tau huay",  "yew char kuay" is "yew char kuay" .....

Some readers asked me about Bread Talk in the controversial news recently about beancurd drinks sold by the company.

I am talking about beancurd, not about bread on this blog.  Not mentioned here.

An interesting email I received from a blog reader:

"Please advise the mothers-to-be to drink more beancurd during pregnancy so that their babies would be born with fair complexion and smooth skin.  However, if  mothers drink only water before the babies are born,  the babies would be born transparent" .... hahaha, just kidding!



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