I live in the general area of Dignity Kitchen, and recently wandered in both out of curiosity, and my need to try out a new food place on a slow weekend. I came away with both a good meal, and some general good vibes after having seen an establishment in operation that enables individuals from our society with special needs to be both independent and become contributing members of society.
The Ambience, Service and Staff
Dignity Kitchen is the brain child of Koh Seng Choon, an engineer by training who has put a great deal of thought into creating the first hawker training centre in the world. It’s a lot more than that. Dignity Kitchen caters to training individuals with special needs to operate a hawker centre. From enabling vision impaired individuals to be able to operate cash registers, to training individuals on the autism spectrum to prepare food, and through incorporating automated and semi-automated processes in the food preparation process, this hawker centre is truly something special.
The premises are on Boon Keng Road, and are in what used to be a warehouse that was used for furniture sales. It has now been fully converted into a commercial kitchen, bakery, and training centre.
The interiors have high ceilings and a clean environment, with hawker stalls on two sides that offer a range of different food.
As they learn how to operate such an establishment, staff with special needs are supervised by a management team ready to step in when required. I placed my order at the cash register and was issued a buzzer. Once it buzzed, I went to the counter and picked up my items, and sat down to enjoy a peaceful, hot and freshly cooked meal.
I ordered the fish and chips, with some traditional Teh-C (tea with Carnation Milk), and finished up with a slice of banana walnut cake and some more tea. The tea is particularly good, served up at a dedicated drinks stall. The fish and chips was a decent sized portion, served hot and crispy, with salad on the side, and the tartar sauce served in a tub. This meal more than satisfied my appetite. I went back for the cake which was pre-sliced and individually wrapped, and was served immediately. It’s well made, a bit sweet for my personal tastes, but goes down very well with a cup of tea.
The Price Point
The mains, two cups of tea and the slice of cake came to under $10. It’s very affordable fare, and is in line with any hawker centre that you could visit in Singapore.
The Final Verdict
Dignity Kitchen was a very pleasant surprise. I got a personal tour of the place from Koh who shared the amount of thought that had gone into setting up and sustainably running the establishment. Beyond the kitchen, they recycle some of the bi-products (citrus peels, coffee beans) to create environmentally friendly cleaning agents and compost. They have a hydroponic greenhouse to grow a small amount of herbs. More a hawker centre, it is a place that enables individuals with special needs to have a sense of purpose and contribute to society. A visit here was both heart warming and truly inspiring, and I’d strongly encourage everyone to come and pay a visit.
Address: 69 Boon Keng Rd, #01 Red building, Singapore 339772.
Phone: +65 8189 7678