Slowly but surely, the Malaysian culture of late-night eating at Mamak is waning away. All of this happened when the Pandemic of Covid-19 outbreak started back in 2020 which is 2 years ago. The future generation will probably not experience the nighttime atmosphere, the vibes, the people, football fans, and late night football games as a result of the Covid-19 infection prevention measures.
Why is the Mamak Culture so Famous in Malaysia?
There are a lot of street food options in Malaysia, but street hawkers can be thought of as the best chefs in the country because they make delicious food that will make your dining experience a decent one. One of them is Mamak’s food stalls. They toss, fry, and serve good food that will make you fall in love.
Mamak food stalls are integral to Malaysian street food culture. Mamak stalls also can be seem to be roadside open-air restaurant and it was founded by Malaysia’s Indian Muslim people. They specialize in Malay Indian cuisine.
These are venues where the entire community can gather to dine, drink, converse, and watch live football matches on television. Mamak stalls, which are open 24 hours a day, are more than food outlets, they are places of sanctuary for Malaysians looking to fulfill their appetites and be a part of a vibrant and food-loving local community.
The term ‘Mamak’
The term ‘Mamak’ is frequently used in India to refer to Muslims. It is said to be the result of a fusion of Indian and Malay culture and is derived from the Tamil word for maternal uncle, or ‘maa-ma’.
Locals, especially Chinese and Malays, frequently address the Mamaks as “Ah neh,” which translates as “big brother,” as a sign of respect. Other than that, the Malays refer to them as “Bang,” an abbreviation for “Abang,” which also means “big brother” in Malay.
Mamak As a Melting Pot in Local Communities
With centuries of Malay, Chinese, and Indian culinary influences, the Mamak stall is basically a melting pot of diverse cultures, presenting an assortment of food that incorporates both local and foreign products and recipes seamlessly.
Diners can order Chinese-style fried rice, Malay-style foods such as Nasi Lemak, Indian-style dishes such as Vadai, and even Yemeni-style Shawarma and Thai Tom Yum Goong, which are typically served with a glass of teh tarik, or teh ‘o’ ais, the nation’s favorite beverage. All of the vendors are normally halal and its must be since its compliant with Muslim dietary standards, which also means they do not serve pork or alcohol.
Mamak As a Local Stadium for Football Fanatics?
For young people and teenagers, the Mamak culture offers an ideal spot to meet up with friends at night, as well as an economical option for a meal or a beverage. Café-like chairs and television sets allow them to watch their favorite shows or sports events while they enjoy the food. However, not only teenagers, but also adults enjoy watching these beautiful games. Even our own national’s player recognize that!
“It is incredible how much they love football in this country,” said Brendan Gan, Malaysian midfielder and one of the nation’s most popular footballers.
You see, if you go to any stalls whether it is bar or restaurant in Malaysia, even if it’s not Mamak, there is a strong probability that there will be a football match displayed on the television. Although the English Premier League or a major European competition are frequently on the agenda, when Malaysia plays a significant home international, the entire nation of 32 million people has one thing on their mind – to watch our national team winning.
The Pandemic Challenges
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions and lockdowns have challenged the idea of Mamaks as sites for community gatherings. Mamak vendors’ daily sales plummeted after the Malaysian government implemented the Movement Control Order in 2020. Only a quarter to a third of what they made in the previous year are being served in January 2021, according to operators.
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus and increasing number of customers at Mamak eateries, the smallest tables at Mamak have been reduced to a two-person capacity. This has proven to be an effective measure. An even more crucial reason for this is that a government grant of operators’ request for an extension of their business hours, rather than only 8:00 pm, means that they may now serve more consumers in the evenings, allowing them to increase their business sales.
On August 8th 2021, Former Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that dine-ins establishments will be allowed only for fully vaccinated persons, though he advised that people should not hang around or ‘lepak’ after finished meals.
Residents in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, which have been under complete lockdown since June, have expressed a desire to go out at Mamak booths with their friends and relatives after receiving their full vaccinations. Despite this, they are extremely concerned about the high rate of daily infections that continues to exist. Some consumers believe that taking preventive measures like wearing masks and observing social distancing can make dining safe, while others believe that dining in will help to restore some sort of normalcy to their life.
Nowadays, the Mamak culture appears to be resurrected, as many people in our community have received vaccinations and begun to dine in restaurants. This opportunity should not be taken for granted even if it is limited in time as all premises close at midnight (12 p.m. local time). In order to ensure that our Mamak culture will return to normal as soon as possible, let’s halt the preventive measures and follow the sop provided by health authorities.