'Sleep well, Ah Po': Owner of former National Library building's famous wonton noodle stall dies at 94

'Sleep well, Ah Po': Owner of former National Library building's famous wonton noodle stall dies at 94
Madam Leong Yuet Meng at her Nam Seng Noodles & Fried Rice stall at Far East Square in January 2019.
PHOTO: The Straits Times file

SINGAPORE - The owner of the popular and long-standing Nam Seng Noodle House hawker stall, Madam Leong Yuet Meng, has died at age 94.

In a Facebook post on Feb 7, the stall said Madam Leong - known affectionately to customers as Ah Po or granny - had died, and put up a tribute to her.

It said: “She has fed us her wonton mee with warmth, love and fiery personality.

“She will be dearly missed. Let us celebrate her life.”

Madam Leong, who is believed to be one of Singapore’s oldest hawkers, first opened her stall in 1958 at the old National Library canteen in Stamford Road, although some accounts say it started in 1962.

The stall was popular with patrons for more than 40 years before the library building was demolished in 2004.

[embed]https://www.facebook.com/namsengnoodles[/embed]

In the course of running her stall, she trained about five people in the art of dishing up the noodles - usually served with char siew or roast pork, wonton dumplings and vegetables. All of them retired before Madam Leong.

Madam Leong, who mostly spoke Cantonese, then moved the stall to Far East Square.

[embed]https://facebook.com/namsengnoodles[/embed]

Speaking to The Straits Times in 2019, Madam Leong, who was 90 at the time, said she was looking to franchise her business.

She said: “I have endurance and patience, that’s why I can last for so long. Even if I have no customers, I stand here and get customers. I’ve spent more than 50 years to build the brand, and can’t bear to leave the business.”

In 2020, Nam Seng closed shop amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In April 2022, Madam Leong reopened for business, this time in a coffee shop called Che Kitchen in Toa Payoh North.

A report by Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao said customers flocked to the stall to snap up bowls of hot noodles, and take a photo with Madam Leong.

[embed]https://facebook.com/namsengnoodles[/embed]

The Feb 7 Facebook post on Madam Leong’s death drew comments from many patrons, who remembered not just her food, but also her kindness and friendship.

One Facebook user called Chris Chen, in his post, said: “I would always drop by, and Ah Po and I will chit-chat about the good old days. Sleep well, Ah Po. I’ll miss you.”

Another user, Vincent Ooi, said: “Thank you very much for your delicious wantons and noodles. It kept me company during lunches with friends, and even solo lunches at the start of my work life here in SG.”

On the Hawkers United - Dabao 2020 Facebook page, a post paid tribute to Madam Leong and her legacy, garnering more than a thousand reactions in about three hours.

The Straits Times has contacted Madam Leong’s family for details.

Madam Leong, who is believed to be one of Singapore’s oldest hawkers, first opened her stall in 1958 at the old National Library canteen in Stamford Road, although some accounts say it started in 1962.?? PHOTO: ST FILE

ALSO READ:?'Hawker legend': Ex-Heng Ji Chicken Rice owner dies at 80 after recent retirement

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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