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How to keep Singapore's hawker culture alive

Patrons eat at the Bukit Timah Market & Food Centre, one of the oldest hawker centers in Singapore, where a decent meal can cost about S$3. (Photo by Tom Benner)

SINGAPORE -- Kuah Yong Say started selling his specialty black carrot cake, a savory stir-fry with radish and dark soy sauce, as a street vendor back in 1964. Selling from his trishaw, a kind of early-day food truck, he would serve his only dish not on a plate, but on a betel nut palm leaf.

     Now 75 years old, Kuah owns his own food stall in a government-built hawker center. He is one of the lucky ones: His two daughters, both in their 40s, quit their jobs in sales several years ago so they could take over the day-to-day running of the family business.

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