This Woman Shares What’s It Like Running A Nasi Padang Stall With Her Chinese Muslim Revert Husband


Qistina Bumidin •  Sep 14, 2022

The next time you’re looking for halal nasi padang at Chinatown Complex, don’t be fazed by the Chinese man manning the humble Mum Daughter Kitchen along with his wife ? Clarence has gotten his fair share of customers taking a second look, some even casting doubts on whether the food served is halal (despite multiple stickers, including those with the word ‘Muslim-owned’, and information and profile stories plastered all over).

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From left to right: Nadia's and Jahan's mother, Clarence, Jahan and Nadia. Credit: Nadia

However, Nadia, the head of PR and marketing for Mum Daughter kitchen, told us that Clarence remains unbothered and understands that, especially in the context of Singapore, where race and religion unfortunately overlap ?

“Clarence is a fun, and positive man who will still smile and tell you that Mum Daughter Kitchen is halal and all the ingredients used are certified halal no matter how many times he gets questioned”, Nadia told us.

If you’re wondering how Clarence tie into the ‘Mum Daughter’ part of this stall, he’s helping out his wife of over 15 years, Jahan, the chef behind this hawker stall ?

Nadia, who’s also Jahan’s biological sister, shared that it was their mother who came out with the idea in mid-2020. It sparked an interest in Jahan, a passionate cook herself, and together with Clarence, they started a home-based business serving home-cooked nasi padang to cater to working mums during the pandemic (Mum's idea, daughter's kitchen, as Nadia cheekily adds ?)

“To be able to enjoy home-cooked meals with family after a long day at work, even with working from home being the default at the time, Jahan believes that it will be a great help for most working mums”, Nadia said.

Fast forward to 2 years later, Jahan and Clarence took it to the next level and decided to open up a physical hawker stall at Chinatown Complex in July. The location choice checked the boxes for Jahan - it is a great location with a diversity of crowds to enjoy the variety of dishes ? Plus, interestingly the majority of her regulars are Chinese too! So far, they've been greeted with great success, as evident by their dishes selling out fast everyday! Nadia says the couple owes it to their ability to find a balance between their business and personal life. Surprisingly however, working together as a couple is something that isn't new for them ?

From Colleagues To Lovers

Credit: Nadia

When they first met over 15 years ago, Clarence wanted to get to know Jahan better so he started passing her origami while at work. They were both working in the hotel industry at the time. Soon after, Jahan reciprocated those feelings, and a love story began. The cutest part of it all? Even after all these years, Jahan still keeps the origami Clarence gave her ?

There's another love story that bloomed as well - Clarence's deep love for Islam. He converted to Islam in 2005, and was guided through the process by Jahan's late father, before he and Jahan became engaged. "He clearly preaches that his conversion has got nothing to do with his love for Jahan but with the love of the religion", Nadia shared ?

Credit: Nadia

The difference of working together as colleagues in an office, as compared to running a business together is that they no longer had to hide their relationship anymore ? "They had to work separately to remain professional and to avoid any wrong interpretation of their relationship at the workplace. Being able to now work together freely is the best thing for the couple", Nadia said. Plus, communication between the couple ultimately is key to ensure Mum Daughter Kitchen runs smoothly, which proves to help them sail through various difficulties such as adapting to a new business model, managing operational costs, and balancing time between raising their children and handling the stall ?

Whipping Up Soul Food From Stretch

Ayam Belado (Chicken with Indonesian Sambal Chili Paste). Credit: Nadia

The line-up of dishes varies day by day, with about 12 to 14 dishes to choose from, so you should check their Instagram page for updates! All of their dishes are painstakingly prepared upon order, especially so the heart of all of Mum Daughter Kitchen's soul-nourishing food: the rempah (spice paste) made from stretch ?

The process of preparing their rempah is labour-intensive, from splitting the dried chillies one by one to blending it with other ingredients to form a paste. It's no wonder their dishes have found a fervent following - it truly taste like home ?

Sotong Masak Hitam. Credit: Nadia

There's also other noteworthy dishes Nadia herself suggest you to try such as their Belado dishes (either fish, chicken or eggplants, depending on the menu of the day) which goes well with steamed white rice, Asam Pedas, Fish Curry and more. However, we must insist - if you do see their best-selling dish, Sotong Hitam (Whole Squid in Black Ink Stew) and Ayam Masak Lemak Chilli Padi (Chicken in Coconut Cream with Birds Eye Chili) on the menu for the day, run, don't walk, to the stall ?

Ayam Masak Merah Chilli Padi. Credit: Nadia

Jahan and Clarence's story is truly a heartwarming one, which you can see it translated to the array of comforting Malay dishes that promises nothing but full, satisfied bellies ? What are you waiting for? Time to treat yourself to a delicious lunch at Mum Daughter Kitchen NOW ?

Mum Daughter Kitchen

Halal status: Muslim-owned

Address: 335 Smith Street, Chinatown Complex #02-158, Singapore 050335

Opening hours: 8.30am- 7pm (Mon-Sat), closed on Sun


P.S. Looking for more inspiring stories from the community? Check these out!