And really, what would we do without our yummy neighbourhood char kuey teow?
Local news during the MCO highlighted the unfortunate events surrounding hawker stall owners who weren’t able to keep their small businesses running. With no proper access to customers, and little know how of technology especially for the older generation of hawker owners, these businesses saw little hope of keeping afloat.
The internet pulled together as a community to lend its support: posting and sharing the stories of these businessmen and women, starting donation funds and helping to gather food orders.
We all love the easy after-work dinner pickups from the corner shop, comfort food on Sundays with the family, and more nostalgia.
It’s certainly a different reality for restaurants and cafes who have long adapted to online food delivery systems. But what these food delivery systems are lacking is many of our favourite small hawkers.
The food delivery system known as The Other Kitchen have it their quest to give local hawkers a digital presence. “We couldn’t bear to see any of them (hawkers) disappear or close down, they are a big part of Malaysia’s culture and our culinary heritage. It’s such a shame that some hawkers have closed due to the absence of online presence during MCO and RMCO when their business problems which can be addressed in part through digital inclusion,” said Albert Wong, Co-founder of The Other Kitchen.
Wong believes that the MCO has taught the F&B industry that digitalised food delivery is the way forward. “If your store is not found anywhere on the Internet available to order, you can be easily forgotten.”
In an effort to overcome cost challenges for hawkers, The Other Kitchen has implemented a flat rate of 2% per transaction fee, where else other third-part food deliver marketplace apps take at a least a minimum of 30%, says Wong.
The Other Kitchen has named this initiative ‘Local Legends’. Sharing that age should not be a barrier and older generations of hawkers should not underestimate their ability to make the digital transaction, Wong adds: “We want to address their fears and concerns — to see how we can help them make the leap onto the digitalisation journey that could open up many more possibilities — while holding their hands along the way.”
Local Legends include businesses you may already know and love. Some of them have been operating for decades, such as Yut Kee Restaurant which has been serving traditional Hainanese cuisine since 1928. Other businesses include Robert Char Kuey Teow, Uncle Soon Fried Rice, Choon Prawn Mee, Wang Chiew Seafood Restaurant, Hon Kee Famous Porridge, Loong Foong Roast Duck, Ah Weng Koh, and Yang Ki Beef Noodle.
While they might not be as well-groomed or tech-savvy as more modern F&B establishments, Lionel Lau, a partner of The Other Kitchen describes them as “masters who have perfected their craft”.
“Throughout decades, they still stayed behind their cramped, tiny stalls, cooking up a storm despite receiving little acknowledgment or respect for what they do.”
He adds, “They are the cornerstones of our community, nurturing us all with their delicious yet affordable fare. Their recipes can be considered as national treasures, an irreplaceable part of our history that’s passed down through generations. That is why here, we call them the Local Legends.”
As a key step, The Other Kitchen has put together a 45-minute-long documentary detailing the background, history, business struggles and achievements of local hawkers. The documentary is scheduled for a September 2020 release.
Click here place your food orders in support of the Local Legends.