Founders Of Wonderful Bak Kut Teh Want To Equip Ex-Convicts With Skills For Second Chance At Life
It’s safe to say that many hawkers were hard-hit during the Covid-19 pandemic as most remained indoors. On the other hand, ex-convicts can face a whole lifetime of trying to integrate back in society.
However, many gravitate towards one thing: food. Perhaps this is ’cause food is the way to a Singaporean’s heart.
Mr Joseph Neo is one such man, and now runs his own bak kut teh (BKT) stall located in Pek Kio.
Image courtesy of Wonderful Bak Kut Teh
Mr Ronnie Choo, the co-founder of Wonderful Bak Kut Teh, had met Mr Neo while the latter was serving his Reformative Training Centre (RTC) sentence.
He was drawn by Mr Neo’s desire to create a career for himself and so co-founded the stall together on Nov 2020.
First conviction at 13
While a bright child, Mr Neo was also restless and this unfortunately led him to crime, receiving his first conviction at the age of 13.
After his release from prison in 2001, Mr Neo took on various odd jobs, which included:
- licensed money lender
- club bouncer
For an ex-convict, securing a normal desk-bound job is often difficult.
But Mr Choo, who’s a prison volunteer for Christian Chapel Service, told MS News that he saw Mr Neo had a desire to craft out a career for himself.
Mr Choo had met Mr Neo in 2015 while he was volunteering in prison.
This led him to pursue skills in the F&B industry, and eventually work his way up to a head chef position at a famous BKT restaurant.
Started Wonderful Bak Kut Teh in Nov 2020
Eventually, in Nov 2020, Mr Neo co-founded Wonderful Bak Kut Teh with Mr Choo.
Despite the tattoos adorning his arms, Mr Neo categorically states that they do not define him as a person.
He tends to say,
Don’t judge me on my tattoo, judge the soup that I have prepared
Wonderful Bak Kut Teh serves grandparents’ recipes
The stall serves up traditional and peppery BKT, just the way your grandparents may have enjoyed it.
Pig’s trotter vinegar is also another one of their specialities.
But perhaps most importantly, the founders want Wonderful Bak Kut Teh to be a place where ex-convicts can get another shot at life.
“The vision (goes) beyond serving food, (but also to) equip ex-offender cooking skills for them to start a new leaf just like Joseph”, Mr Choo told MS News.
He hopes that the community will show support for the stall given the struggles that F&B operators face.
Not only that, but they also hope that Wonderful BKT’s story can motivate others to push on in these difficult times.
Visit for some comforting traditional fare
If you’re intrigued by the concept or simply want to show some support, they’re located at a coffeeshop close to Pek Kio Market & Food Centre.
They’re on major food delivery platform and offer islandwide delivery too, for those who’d like a piping hot soup on these chilly days at home.
Address: 43 Cambridge Road #01-09 S210043
Opening hours: 9:15am-9:00pm daily
Nearest MRT station: Farrer Park
Facebook: Wonderful BKT
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Featured image courtesy of Wonderful Bak Kut Teh.