Regardless of age, race, religion or social status, mamak hold a dear place in the hearts of us Malaysians. Go ahead and try to find a Malaysian who has never been to a mamak, it’s almost impossible! They have become such an integral part of Malaysian culture that most of us don’t go longer than a week without our mamak fix. But what is it about mamaks that make them so important to us? With new health policies proposed by the Ministry of Health which include the possibility of having mamaks close by midnight, here are some of our favourite mamak memories. (No, they’re not going away, but the possibility of not having anymore 24 hour mamaks is making us emotional already. Anyway, here goes.)
1. The variety of food and drink options
Just head over to your nearest mamak (which shouldn’t be too far away since they’re practically everywhere), and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding what to makan. Be it the various types of roti to the members of the goreng family like maggi, nasi and mee, and of course rice with all your favourite curries and dishes. Some mamaks even offer Western food like chicken chops and burgers with fries. How could we forget the ample options of drinks on hand, from Malaysian favourites like teh tarik and teh o’ ais all the way to funky specialised drinks like Milo Dinosaur and Ice Cream Floats with nata de coco. Just writing about it is making me hungry. Chup, brb. “ANNEH!”
2. Stadium Atmosphere
Whether you’re just too far away from the BPL action (obviously lah, since that happens in the UK and you’re in Malaysia, hellooo??) or you just don’t have Astro at home, mamaks are a blessing for us football fans. That’s because a large number of mamaks have a big outdoor screen that gives the outlet a stadium like atmosphere with fans from both sides cheering on their team, and hurling friendly banter at each other. It’s not just football though, when it comes time for our national shuttlers to take to the court in major tournament matches, mamaks are often packed to the brim in a sea of national pride urging on our heroes. You truly feel the togetherness of Malaysians, all thanks to that big screen at the mamak.
3. It’s the best place to lepak
The go-to place for people who want to just catch up with friends, sit for hours on end and not have to spend much at all is of course a mamak. I’ve lost count of how many hours I’ve spent just chilling with a group of friends at the mamak, with only one glass of limau ais. Malaysians in general are notorious for being thrifty and it comes as no surprise we would do anything to stretch our ringgit, even it means dealing with the heat and noise associated with your typical mamak.
4. Everybody is a boss
Have you ever felt like you are the lowest of the low? Fret not, and head over to your nearest mamak and you’ll be a boss! No kidding. From the waiters who take your order, to the cashier and even you, yes you, everyone carries the prestigious title of “Boss” at the mamak. Guaranteed to make any downtrodden soul feel better, and that’s the mamak guarantee! A typical conversation with the mamak waiter goes like this.
Waiter : Boss, mau order apa?
Customer : Boss, roti kosong satu!
Waiter : Ok boss.
Customer : Thank you boss!
5. The fact that it’s always there for us, no matter the time
With the majority of mamaks operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it’s no surprise to anyone how convenient they are to a host of people. Doesn’t matter what the time is, if you’re hungry or just need a nice hot glass of kopi-o, the mamak is always there for us! Imagine this, it’s 3 a.m. and you’ve just finished partying for the night, what’s your first stop before heading home to the comfort our your bed? I think we both know the answer to that.
So be it the food or the atmosphere or whatever other reason, the Malaysian mamak will forever hold a special place in our hearts and we will continue to frequent our favourite ones till the end of our days. Now take a deep breath and scream at the top of your lungs, “WE LOVE YOU, MAMAK!”.