Malaysia is a foodie’s dream. There are numerous food centers in all areas of cities and housing estates. These facilities serve the country’s multiracial population. People have discerning tastes and appetites for good food, and word of mouth spreads the popularity of a stall. This status has been granted to one stall in my housing estate.
The food center was recently renovated and is now a bright and airy space with a large number of stalls. There is a wide range of food available to suit all tastes, including Chinese noodles, chicken rice, and duck rice, cakes and snacks, and Indian dishes such as ‘roti canai’, saffron rice with curry, and Malay dishes such as ‘nasi lemak’ (coconut rice) and ‘satay’ (meat kebabs). In addition, there are stalls selling hot and cold drinks, desserts, and fruit juices. The food court is extremely crowded, especially in the mornings and at lunchtime, as well as on weekends. Some people come to buy breakfast, lunch, or snacks to bring into the offices, while others eat at the tables.
This particular snack stall is extremely popular. It is run by two women who make a killing selling deep-fried local snacks. They arrive early in the morning to knead, roll, cut, and deep fry-shaped dough sticks, spring rolls, battered yams, red bean cakes, tapioca, bananas, and sweet potatoes. The fried dough stick is light and moist, and the batter into which the yam and potato pieces are dipped makes the cakes crispy and tasty. Two young assistants, a boy, and a girl help them take orders, bag food for customers and serve those at tables. Every day, long lines of people wait to be served.
According to a framed certificate at the front of the stall, the stallholder was recently awarded a certificate of excellence for good food by a food critic. The stall is always clean and sanitary. Inspectors from the Ministry of Health conduct random checks to monitor and ensure that hygiene standards are met.
Mother and I had breakfast there one Saturday. The stall was busy because it was the weekend, and there was a long line when we arrived. It took nearly an hour for our food to arrive at our table. We had ordered fried red bean cakes, and Mother had ordered spring rolls with chili sauce. The food arrived hot and fresh from the pan, and it was delicious. We paid RM10 for it and it was well worth the wait because we both enjoyed our breakfast.
When we were done and ready to leave, I noticed that the line up to the stall was still as long as it had been. I could see why it had won an award for culinary excellence.
Because we live such busy lives and may not always have time to cook our meals, having food centers that cater to everyone’s dietary needs is a benefit and convenient. I know it helps my mother when she is busy or sick and unable to prepare a meal for us at home.