Hawker Talk: Have You Used Any Of These Lingos To Order Your Drinks?

The crowd at the hawk­er cen­tre reveals Singapore’s cos­mopoli­tan cul­ture, from the elder­ly to the office crowd and even fam­i­lies of dif­fer­ent races and reli­gion. But it’s a hawk­er cen­tre we’re talk­ing about, it’s only right that food takes cen­ter­stage, not just the type of patron­age. Step into one of Singapore’s pop­u­lar hawk­ers and inevitably, scents from the Indi­an, Malay, Chi­nese and oth­er fusion stalls form a unique aro­ma that only we know.

Amidst the diver­si­ty, we speak a com­mon lan­guage. It may be alien to some, but for the avid hawk­er-goer, these terms are as com­mon as our moth­er tongue. It is part of our cul­ture. For instance, do you know any of these phras­es we use to order our drinks?

Michael Jack­son

Uncle, one Michael Jack­son!”

Michael Jack­son is the har­mo­nious blend of both the grass jel­ly drink and soymilk. You could say the com­par­i­son doesn’t do jus­tice to Michael Jack­son him­self, but con­sid­er­ing how the drink tastes so good, we say it is a com­pli­ment!


Aun­tie, diao yu ah!”

Diao yu (or diao he in Hokkien) means, lit­er­al­ly, to go fish­ing. This is a visu­al ref­er­ence to how we steep our tea bags, as the act of bob­bing the tea bag is sim­i­lar to when you reel in a fish. That is how this slang to order Chi­nese tea came about. Tell this to your favourite drinks stall Aun­tie and she will be impressed!

Tak Qiu

Uncle, Tak Qiu yi bei ( one cup)!”

Lit­er­al­ly trans­lat­ed from Hokkien to “kick ball”, this is a slang used to order a cup of Milo. If you have not noticed, the sig­na­ture design on a milo tin is of a boy play­ing soc­cer, which is where this nick­name came about. But do not for­get to tell Uncle if you want your Milo iced or hot!

Yuan Yang

Aun­tie, one Yuan Yang, iced, please!”

Lit­er­al­ly, yuan yang refers to a pair of man­darin ducks, which sym­bol­is­es con­ju­gal love in the Chi­nese cul­ture. And con­ju­gal love it tru­ly is, when the aro­mat­ic tea and cof­fee blends har­mo­nious­ly in a cup of Yuan Yang. For the caf­feine lovers, this is the best of both worlds.


Uncle, one Clemen­ti!”

No, not the town. Clemen­ti rhymes with lemon tea, which was how this name came about. It is a very Sin­ga­pore­an ref­er­ence, so if you are feel­ing rather patri­ot­ic, try out this new way of order­ing your drink. Kudos to you if you could get what you want at the first try while order­ing it at a Clemen­ti cof­feeshop.

May’s Cafe

These days, tra­di­tions can prove to be inspi­ra­tions for new cre­ations. Tucked among oth­er drink stalls and food hawk­ers at Sims Vista Mar­ket & Food Cen­tre, you will find a sur­pris­ing entre­pre­neur. May’s Cafe may seem like any oth­er drink stall at the hawk­er, till you take a clos­er look at the menu. You will be blown away by the amount of inno­va­tion, care and atten­tion to detail the lady boss, Aun­tie May, puts into her cre­ations. Apart from the usu­al cof­fee shop drinks we are used to see­ing, here are some of her unortho­dox con­coc­tions.


Tech­ni­cal­ly, a Mof­fee is a cup of Mocha, but the pro­por­tions of the ingre­di­ents have been tweaked to be even more impact­ful. There is twice the amount of cof­fee in here than choco­late, and the blend she uses makes the flavours seem more local, in our opin­ion. If you like Mocha, but the Amer­i­can brew you get at Star­bucks does not tick­le your fan­cy, you might find your­self falling in love with Mof­fee.

Aun­tie May is more than hap­py to tweak the sweet­ness lev­el accord­ing to your pref­er­ence too, like your favourite bub­ble tea fran­chise.


Love Hor­licks and tea? Char­lie is your match made in heav­en. Aun­tie May has found the per­fect “gold­en pro­por­tion” of iced tea to Hor­licks so that you can get that flavour blast of tea at the first sip, and then the lin­ger­ing fra­grance of malt from the Hor­licks as the flavour of the tea sub­sides.


And the prop­er way to order this is with a Hong Kong accent! (We’re just kid­ding.) Mixed with Hor­licks, Feel­ing gives you the aro­ma of cof­fee but takes away the bit­ter after­taste with sweet malt. As it coats your tongue and the flavours linger, the pleas­ant feel­ing derived is what gives this drink its name. Some of her caf­feine averse cus­tomers say this is the only cof­fee drink they love!

Despite the “gold­en ratios” she has dis­cov­ered for each drink, Aun­tie May gives her cus­tomers free reign to tweak the drinks to their lik­ing. More sug­ar or less sug­ar, more tea or less cof­fee- state your pref­er­ences and she will whip up your favourite drink cus­tomised to your taste pro­file. This thought­ful­ness and ded­i­ca­tion to her craft are what makes cus­tomers more than hap­py to keep com­ing back.

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