Whenever most of us have a sudden craving for curry puffs, more often than not, we will turn to Old Chang Kee. One of the oldest and most iconic businesses in Singapore, there is no denying that Old Chang Kee sell awesome and mouth-watering curry puffs. In fact, they are so good that Old Chang Kee curry puffs have been listed as one of the best curry puffs in Singapore.
But they don’t just sell curry puffs. Old Chang Kee also offers a huge variety of finger food that will make you drool such as spring rolls, sardine puffs, sotong balls, yam cakes etc. but their signature is still the curry puff. Anyways, enough about Old Chang Kee’s business. Let’s move on.
Despite Old Chang Kee’s fame in Singapore and among Singaporeans, there are a number of things that most people will not know about this awesome curry puff maker. So, let’s explore and maybe you get to learn a thing or two about Singapore’s most iconic finger food maker.
1) Humble Origins
Before Old Chang Kee became what it is today, back then, when it just started out, it was only a tiny little stall near Rex Cinema on Mackenzie Road. At that time, it was run by the first owner, Chang Chuan Boon. But in 1986, Mr Chang decided to retire and return to China, so the next owner took over the business for $30,000. His name was Han Keen Juan and till today, he remains as the executive chairman of Old Chang Kee but despite popular belief, he wasn’t the original founder. As mentioned above, it was Chang Chuan Boon.
2) Rex Curry Puff
We all know that the icon and signature of Old Chang Kee is the curry puff, also nicknamed the Curry’O. But before it was called Curry’O, its original name was Rex Curry Puff. But after Mr Han took over, the name was changed to the one name we all know: The Curry’O.
3) Curry Times
Yes, I am referring to the name of the restaurant. For those who do not know, there is a restaurant known as curry times that are famous for selling curry dishes, especially their curry chicken. But here’s the thing: Curry times is actually owned and opened by Old Chang Kee itself. Bet you did not know that.
4) Photo of the boss
At the headquarters/flagship store of Old Chang Kee, which is at Woodlands, instead of hanging a picture of their boss, Han Keen Juan, they hanged a photo of the late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, alongside the quote:” The day you can’t adjust and change, that day you begin to shrivel and die…that’s all. The day I’m unable to learn new things, I’m out of touch with the world,then I’m useless”.
5) Hater of Cooking
Being the owner of a food business, you will expect the boss, Mr Han to be good at cooking. Well, guess what? He’s not! In fact, Mr Han admitted that he hated cooking. When he took over the stall back then, he did not even know how to fry an egg! But he went to learn every single procedure – from kneading the dough to frying the potatoes and chicken for the filling.
For someone that hated cooking but yet managed to come up with such an awesome curry puff, this guy really must have a flair for cooking.
6) Jobs for the elderly
Mr Han ensured that Old Chang Kee gave priority to older applicants for a job in the company. According to statistics, at least 80% of the chain’s staff is aged 45 or older. I don’t really know the reason why but I am speculating that he realised the issue of an aging population where many elderly people are jobless or something along that line. But whatever the case, he definitely contributed a part in providing jobs for the older people to reduce the amount of jobless older people in Singapore.