The award-winning executive chef of Fatty Weng, Lai Foo Weng, is the driving force behind Fatty Weng. He earned his nickname, “Fatty Weng” from his customers and the name caught on ever since. (There is an on-going joke that his slightly chubby appearance had a part to play in his nickname too.) From a very young age in life, Fatty Weng started cooking. His focus was always to create authentic, home-style Cantonese cuisine. His passion led to him starting up Fatty Weng in 1967 while he was in his 20s?. Back then, Fatty Weng operated as a modest roadside stall on Albert Street.
The Albert Street roadside stall saw streams of customers who kept coming back for the delicious, hearty meals prepared by him. It was at his modest stall in Albert Street where stories of his famous opeh-leaf takeaway originated from.
Fatty Weng’s dishes were such a hit that barely 3 years later in 1970, he moved into a larger premise – a coffee shop on Guillemard Road to cater to his growing customer base. His loyal fans sought him out at his new premise, and in no time at all, Fatty Weng took over the neighboring shop in Guillemard Road. In the 1970s, it was a common sight to see hoards of people tucking into the famous Deep Fried Soon Hock in Special Sauce along Guillemard road.
By the early 1980s, Fatty Weng became known as the reasonably-priced, go-to Cantonese cuisine restaurant for family and corporate gatherings.
By then, Fatty Weng’s menu grew as well – with more than 200 items to choose from, there was always something for every taste bud imaginable. To cater to the growing customer base, Fatty Weng moved into a 500-seater restaurant in the Singapore Badminton Hall in Geylang. As with any F&B business, having a consistent location helped. For the next 20 years, from the 1980s to 2007, Fatty Weng had a permanent home, and quickly become an institution for the Singapore dining landscape in the 1980s: many people who lived in Singapore then recall having a birthday, wedding or corporate meal at Fatty Weng’s, or having a takeaway opeh-packed meal from Fatty Weng’s. It was a homegrown brand that everybody recognized and knew well.
In 2007, Fatty Weng had to relocate out of Singapore Badminton Hall premises as the building was taken back by the Singapore Land Authority. Since then, Fatty Weng’s signature and often-talked about opeh-leaf takeaways, missed by many, and were spotted replicated by a number of other eateries.