This past year, we noticed the evolution of several novel “species” of males in our midst. What’s your type, and what’s the way to his heart?
THE HOT HAWKER
He’s young, and almost as tasty as his Michelinstarred bak chor mee... almost.
He’s not your typical zi char uncle.
This guy will not be in a singlet rolled above his belly, barking out orders. We’re talking about a new-gen “hawkerpreneur” in his 20s to 40s. He may have hung up his suit for an apron, or went to culinary school to pursue his passion. Despite slaving in a smoky kitchen all day, he manages to have preternaturally good skin.
He’s sentimental (even about fishballs).
There are so many thirdgen family hawkers now, it’s a cliche. But stories like Gilbert Lim’s still make us go “aww”. Gilbert, a 43-yearold third-gen hawker at Ah Ter Teochew Fishball Noodles, helped out at his grandfather’s stall from the time he was nine. When he realised his sisters weren’t keen on the business, he quit his job as a financial trader (he was then 26) to take over, out of love for his grandparents, father (who also helps at the stall) and yes, fishballs.
He can cook...
...but he may be a snob about your cooking.
“The saying, ‘a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’ doesn’t really work for me,” says Edmund Goh, 28, who co-founded Japanese rice bowl stall Wafuken with former army buddy Jake Pang, 26. Our translation: other men may find your burnt matcha souffle attempts cute, but this guy may go Hell’s Kitchen on you.
He’s a hard worker.
It takes perseverance to be a hawker. Gilbert clocks 12-hour shifts and wakes up at 4am to go to the wet market, while the Wafuken boys regularly worked from 6am to midnight when they first started out.
Verdict: He’s a great catch if you love a down-to-earth guy – although the only time you can sample this workaholic’s cooking will probably be at the hawker centre... with everyone else. Take a queue number, please.
THE HOVERBOARD HOTTIE
He has mastered one of life’s toughest balancing acts (that of staying on that damn device). Part skateboarder, part gadget enthusiast, this guy moves fast!
He’s not a man-child.
Don’t just dismiss the male adult hoverboard fan as someone with Peter Pan syndrome. Consider that this futuristic skater boy takes pride in convenience and efficiency. “I like to run errands with my hands free,” says 36-year-old hoverboard user and photographer Barry Seah.
He’s a techie.
Chances are, this guy is a gadget enthusiast and an early adopter of the latest shiny toys. “Yeah, I’m a techie when it comes to gadgets such as computers, phones, cameras, speakers and electric scooters,” admits 22-year-old Shane Boey, owner of online business Dowhileloop, which sells and repairs hoverboards. “As for hoverboards, I thought, why not? They’re so futuristic. I carry mine into trains and buses, and use it around the office and neighbourhood.”
The one downside...
He may own a set of wheels, but unlike cars and bikes, hoverboards only have space for one. Looks like you won’t get to ride with him with the wind in your hair...
Verdict: If you enjoy living on the edge, this is the guy for you, considering that hoverboards are so hot that, according to news reports, they’ve literally caught fire!
THE CO-WORKSPACE HUNK
He makes up for your lack of a cubicle.
He may just be the next startup poster boy.
Co-working spaces tend to attract a certain crowd: start-up entrepreneurs, programmers, venture capitalists, and freelancers working on their Next Big Thing. Basically, risktakers and self-starters. Seriously sexy. Who knows, you may be sitting next to Singapore’s answer to Mark Zuckerberg!
Take Ethan Chai, whom we spotted at co-working space Wallich, for example. The 30-year-old senior client manager at Proof & Company Spirits, who describes himself as a perfectionist, says: “Once I decide to do something, I will try my best to achieve the best results. Otherwise, I’d rather not do it.” Jonathan Shen, 27, who co-founded snack brand The Golden Duck Co. (and whom we found in coworking office Spacemob) rattles off what he considers to be the “least” he should achieve: “Take my brand to every major city in South-east Asia; bring the Singapore flavour to the rest of the world; build an international team with a genuinely good company culture.” We’re still trying to get through Monday.
Getting to know him? Easy.
Hot-desking gives you a great excuse to sidle up next to him. Most of these shared spaces also host networking events, affording opportunities to “bump” into your hunk. And, in general, co-workspace regulars are a friendly, approachable bunch. Don’t shy away from initiating a chat – or, ahem, a networking discussion – over coffee.
Keeping him? Hard.
Fair warning: this guy has high expectations. “Empowered women who are grounded in their thinking are the most attractive. I haven’t found anyone of that calibre yet, unfortunately,” says Nara Sridharan, 25, a developer for start-up Mydoc (he works at Wallich). “I’ve been single for almost three years and intend to stay that way till 30,” says Jonathan. “But if I meet a girl who complements my lifestyle – lots of travelling and meetings, and little time for play – I guess it’ll be silly to let her slip.” Good luck.
Verdict: You’ll be guaranteed an interesting date, but work will be his first love. If he’s running a start-up, his business would be his very demanding baby; dating him would kind of be like dating a divorcee with children. If he’s working for a lean team, be prepared to have him hit pause in the middle of your date while he attends to a work emergency.
THE URBAN FARMER
Don’t be fooled by his soiled clothing, shovel and unkempt hair – this guy’s saving the world.
He knows how to get down and dirty... ...in the garden.
This handson farmer wants to make the world a better place, but not through another over-hyped smartphone app (thankfully). The urban farmer wants to protect the environment and make Singapore more sustainable. He is suspicious of industrial food, and may work in the green sector or tend to an edible garden as a hobby. Says 27-year-old Darren, a consultant to urban farming businesses: “I was inspired to work extensively with farms after realising how the complex food system could be detrimental to our future and sustainability... My job entails proving to people that urban farming works and is a viable solution for cities.”
He can put food on the table (literally).
And you bet it’ll be organic. Chemistry student Brian, 22, harvests food from his own garden. “Would you want to eat an apple sprayed with a can of insecticide?” he asks. “That’s how modern agricultural companies grow their crops. Growing your own food lets you take ownership of what you eat.”
He has a different vision of success.
There’s something to be said about a guy who’s not chasing the latest car or watch. The urban farmer takes pride in harvesting a batch of crops he cultivated. It’s all about high-quality living rather than the high- flyer’s life – although those farm-to-table concept cafes he likes are pretty pricey...
Verdict: Unlike his annoying hipster cousins who drink home-brewed beer and quote Karl Marx ad nauseum, the urban farmer actually does something meaningful. Plus, all that outdoor work means he has a nice tan and great biceps (swoon!). But does he have to give us the side-eye every time we crave fast food?