Monday, 4 February 2008

Mamak moments

I seriously think that the mamak stall is a 'malaysian' phenomenon. First and foremost, the term 'mamak' as defined by wikipedia: 'is a term (derived from a Tamil word meaning uncle) used in Malaysia to describe the Malaysian Indian Muslim community and culture. Most Indian Muslims consider this term to be pejorative'.

The mamak stall is (as the name suggests), a stall operated by mamaks. Its incredible that one can find a mamak at almost any street corner in KL. Though traditionally mamaks are roadside stalls with a few tables, we now have restaurant and cafe-type mamaks all around. No other eatery has much cultural significance in Malaysia, apart from the kopitiam, of course.

Everyone goes to the mamak. Whether its for a proper meal or late night football watching, or just to have a quick drink in between errands, we all go to the mamak.

There have been many terrifying urban legend type mamak tales to share ranging from creepy crawlers to 'creative ingredients'. And i'm sure you have your own tale to share. However, my misadventures arent as scary.

I remember 1 particular mamak stall that we used to patronise during our secondary school days. It was the stall next to the Esso on Pasar Road. I do not understand why we go there, but we do. I remember it was the stall very near to Hafiz' house and next to his brother's burger stall. The gang, would just 'lepak' there on most nights, flipping burgers and jamming on 'kapok' guitars.

Anyhow, back to that infamous stall. The owner was this really old dude..... and he had a few helpers. This particular helper will take our orders almost everyday. I don't know what's his deal, but he never comes prepared with pen and paper. Irrespective, being a person whose job is to 'take orders', one should be fairly proficient after 'years' on the job... rite? Now, our group goes there almost on a daily basis, and its the ussual 3-5 jokers........ and we generally (being creatures of habit), order the same drink.... maybe its our luck, but its always that same ol' dude who comes to take our orders. As predictable, he's never equipped with pen & paper. What this joker does is that he'll just go to the kitchen area and prepares 1 drink, and return with that 1 drink. then takes the order for the remaining people. Goes back to the kitchen area and perpares just another drink and returns to take the order of the remaining people.

If you think he's bad? lemme tell you of the other mamak stall we used to patronise during our school days located in maluri - near the 7-11. This guy is still the champion. I remember during nite scouting activities, the whole gang whole gather at that mamak. There would be at least 10-15 of us. Naturally we would all order different drinks. But the dude there, perhaps felt it was his 'paternal' duty... he would calmly take the orders (also without pen & paper)... return to the kitchen area... and after say 10 minutes of waiting... he would return to our table with about 15 cups of MILO AIS.... !!!!! I KID YOU NOT!!!! (even if there were only 10 of us and nobody ordered MILO AIS!)

lemme tell you 2 more recent incidents...

Incident 1: As you know, i'm ga-ga over salsa. I spent so much time at the studio these days. As such, i'm ALWAYS at Devi's corner (mamak) just beneath the studio. I must admit, the food's not too bad. Nothing fantastic, but just nice. As mentioned before, I am a creature of habit. As such, for the past few years, my no 1 drink at mamaks is TEH O AIS KOSONG. The thing is, i dont really like sweet drinks and i love the taste of tea.

One thursday night, after salsa class, the gang gathered at the mamak for a our ritualistic 'yum char' session. I think at that point in time, it was just Mary-Ann, Karen and myself. Anyhow, as ussual, i ordered my 'TEH O AIS KOSONG'. The dude nicely wrote down our orders and proceeded to the kitchen to process it.

About 5 minutes later, he returned with our drinks. I was totally shocked with what he had intepreted TEH O AIS KOSONG to be. Lo and behold, this is what the dude gave me:

The dude brought me a glass of TEH O and a glass of AIS KOSONG????????? hence TEH O AIS KOSONG! i guess in future i have to be more specific. That's why nowadays, i order TEH O KOSONG (dropping the ever confusing AIS!). However i wont be surprised if they find a way to screw that up!

The second incident happened just last Friday. After the weekly Friday salsa session at Little Havana, we proceeded to our regular mamak not too far from LH. I do admit that their nasi goreng kampung and food in general is VERY GOOD.

Anyhow, as always, i ordered my NASI GORENG KAMPUNG and as ussual, i asked for cili padi. Now, mamaks or rather non chinese in general do not really slice the cili padi finely. They would normally cut them up into small bit sizes. However, this is probably the laziest display of chilli cutting i've ever seen.

Just take a look at that. They gave me alot of cili padi... but i would prefer them in smaller sizes! They were all either cut in half or left in full.... Sigh... don't people understand the meaning of the phrase 'cili padi potong?'

Anyhow, mamak is something that's here to stay. You can complain all you want, but without them, life does get a lil dull...... Perhaps i'll see you at a mamak nearby for a cuppa!


Would like to seize this opportunity to wish all of you a great YEAR OF THE RAT!!! (another thing you can find at most mamaks!)


anfield devotee said...

mamak stalls - getting a little too pricey fer me liking.

Plus the aforementioned substandard service & all too often sub-standard food mean it is less & less a teeat to go to a mamak stall these days.

Having said that me fave mamak stall used to be the famous pakcik & son (on the corner behind TMC Bangsar) whose sup kambing & ayam was spectacular but damn expensive.

Didn't mind paying extra as the food was good.

Mary-Ann said...

I am visiting your blog specifically to read about this incident all over again... Missing those laughs!