In Singapore, most of us are probably familiar with our fair share of “stinky” foods that are loved by most and hated by others, like durians.
And while durian haters can either take the long route to avoid durian stalls or close their doors when their family feasts on the fruit during durian season, it seems like the solution isn’t so simple for residents affected by the stink coming from the stinky tofu stall at a pasar malam in Hougang.
Stinky Tofu Stall at Hougang Pasar Malam is Most Famous in the whole Pasar Malam
The pasar malam, which opened on 21 July and will continue operating until 5 August, has attracted many patrons since its opening.
And the most famous stall of all is the stinky tofu stall, which is located at a corner of the pasar malam.
For those who have never tried the dish before, stinky tofu is a Chinese street food snack that includes fermented tofu, and the tofu is traditionally fermented in a brine with other vegetables and meats.
While it is most commonly deep-fried, stinky tofu can be eaten cold, steamed or stewed as well.
According to reporters from Shin Min Daily News, there were around 50 people queueing up to purchase the dish in the afternoon on Sunday (31 July), making the stinky tofu stall the one with the longest queue in the entire pasar malam.
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Several patrons also told Shin Min that they had specially come down to the pasar malam just to get the stinky tofu dish.
Pasar Malam Had Ventilation, Those in Area Do Not Find it
Shin Min also reported that the ventilation measures within the pasar malam were present.
Electric fans and air conditioners were set up inside the market, allowing air circulation.
Apart from that, an individual queueing up at a different stall also told the Chinese newspaper that even though they do not like the dish, the stink from the stinky tofu stall did not seem prominent.
Another stallholder also expressed similar sentiments.
Residents Complain of Stink Travelling to Their Homes
However, despite the opinions from patrons and stallholders in the area, residents living near the pasar malam have offered completely different views regarding the issue.
When speaking to Shin Min, a 40-year-old lady surnamed Lin mentioned that she recently visited her friend who lives in a Housing Development Board (HDB) flat around 300m away from the pasar malam.
According to her, her friend has had to close all the windows at home for the past few days due to the intense stink coming from the stinky tofu being sold in the area.
Ms Lin, who is a fan of the dish, added that she did indeed smell the stink from the stinky tofu after opening the windows in her friend’s house slightly.
She agreed with her friend, saying that the smell would be unbearable after some time even for her.
Those Living in the Area Have to Switch On Their Air Conditioning to Block Out the Smell
Another resident in the area also confirmed that there has been a stench coming from the stinky tofu stall.
Even though the resident’s unit is not directly facing the pasar malam, she shared that she can still smell the stink coming from the dish every day.
She recalled how she initially thought that the stench was coming from an animal corpse, but later found out from a neighbour that the smell was coming from the stinky tofu.
In addition to that, she also told Shin Min that her two children are unable to tolerate the stinky smell, which means that she has to switch on her air conditioner at night now even though her family usually switches on the fan in their bedrooms.
Residents Resort to Scented Candles to Get Rid of Stench
Mrs Yang, a resident living at 522 Hougang Avenue 6, which is more than 300m away from the pasar malam, also had similar complaints.
She claimed that the stench from the stinky tofu has been present in her living room and kitchen since the pasar malam started its operations.
With the window of her unit facing the pasar malam, Mrs Yang shared that she has had no choice but to shut her windows every day from 11am to 11pm.
Additionally, she also lights scented candles in her living room and kitchen to combat the stink even though it means that she has to put up with stale air in her home.
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When responding to enquiries from Shin Min, the organisers of the pasar malam explained that ventilation measures such as an exhaust pipe have been introduced to reduce the strong smell brought about by the dish.
In particular, the exhaust pipe is faced towards the roof of the pasar malam.
The organisers highlighted that the stall is able to attract a large number of patrons due to the popularity of stinky tofu in Singapore, and allows the pasar malam to offer more diverse food and snack options for patrons as well.
According to Shin Min, other popular stalls in the pasar malam include the stalls selling Fried Sweet Potato Balls, Teochew Meat Puffs and Tutu Kueh.
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