I posted a photo on Instagram on Sunday morning (I think) around 7 AM…
I guess it is time for more details…
Well, you see, my parents recently decided to have a go at being hawkers, so they went and got a booth space in the Yulek Pasar some weeks ago.
(For those of you non-KLites/non-Malaysians, Yulek is the name of a residential area in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. Pasar is the Malay word for market, as in morning market. So, Yulek Pasar merely means Yulek area’s morning market.)
Last weekend was my first time going back home since the booth space. So it made sense for me to go with my parents in an attempt to appear like a filial son.
Let me backtrack a little and share with you the life of a newbie hawker, as seen through my own eyes. This is a rough schedule that I observed of my parents’ life these days.
- 3.30AM – 6.00AM: Wake up and go through final preparations of the food for business, including but not limited to: heating up the food, portioning up the food, garnishing and packing up the food, loading up the food to the van, shower and getting dressed into their “uniform”.
- 6.00AM – 6.15AM: Drive to curry puff supplier’s place to collect curry puffs, and then drive to the market.
- 6.15AM – 6.30AM: Arrive at their booth in the market, unload the food from the van to their stall, set up stall and get ready for business.
- 6.30AM – 11.00AM: Sell food to customers in the market.
- 11.00AM – 1.00PM: Stock up on ingredients for tomorrow’s menu, have lunch and get home.
- 1.00PM – 4.00PM: Rest, catch up on sleep.
- 4.00PM – 6.00PM: (Mom only) Cook dinner for the family. Eat dinner.
- 6.00PM – 12.00AM: Preparing for tomorrow’s menu, including but not limited to: Setting up the kitchen, washing and cutting and chopping and whatever else needs to be done to the ingredients, cooking the food, washing up after cooking.
- 12.00AM – 3.30AM: Get some sleep.
The timing might not be 100% accurate and may vary a bit, but close enough…
Can you see how crazy this is? They basically get less than 8 hours of rest/sleep time per day, and the rest is spent working, one way or another. They’re working harder than me it would seem.
Given, they’re new to this, so a lot of those time are probably wasted on inefficiency. Good news is they’re not doing this 7 days a week. They only go at it on weekends and 2-3 days selectively on weekdays. Still, it is a crazy amount of work when they do work. I can only hope that with time, they become more efficient and the work:rest time ratio would be much more balanced.
Okay, enough storytelling…
When I said the view above was going to be my view for the next few hours, I wasn’t lying.
I was seated, and there were more people (obviously, since on weekends, 9.30AM is a more humane time compared to 7AM).
Truth be told, I didn’t do much anyway. I helped with the loading and unloading, and then I was mostly there to chat with my mom, and be her sidekick when there’s customers, doing menial tasks like passing her the plastic spoons and plastic bags, and giving a wide grin when one of her return customers commented: “Wah! Auntie! Your son ahh?? So good ahh come out and help you??”
Usually being the sidekick is my dad’s task, but as I was standing in, he got to wander around the market and beyond, looking and chatting up his old friends. He used to live in Yulek so he has many old friends in the vicinity.
What am I doing? I just deviated from what I really want to write, yet again…
What I really want to do is to tell you guys what my parents sell. Take a look at the menu…
The menu of the day was: 小米麦片粥 Millet and Oats Porridge (RM 3.00), 椰汁麦粥 Sweet Wheat Porridge with Coconut Milk (RM 2.50), 红枣莲子雪耳 Sweet White Fungus Soup with Red Dates and Lotus Seeds (RM 3.00), 咸香沙谷糕 Spiced Sago Cake (RM 2.50).
Notice the menu is actually written on a whiteboard. using marker pens? This is because the menu changes every day, depending on what my mom felt like cooking the day before. But basically it goes along this template: 1 savory porridge + 2 sweet dessert soups + 1 or 2 Chinese pastries.
Hmm, I’m telling you these because, well… if you live near enough and you ever want a healthy breakfast option, you might want to hop over to my parents’ stall and check it out. I don’t need to exaggerate anything about the food. All I need is to tell you the truth.
You know how I sometimes post about the stuff that my mom prepares for me every time I go home? And how some of you claim to really want to try my mom’s food? Well, she prepares the food that she sells the exact same way that she prepares food for us: brown sugar instead of white sugar, organic vegetarian seasoning instead of MSG, brown rice instead of white rice for her savory porridge, that kind of things.
If you want to pay my parents a visit, you just need to know how to get to the Yulek Market. Once there, you will most probably be able to find my parents’ booth. There are 3 separate clusters of food stalls in the market’s food court, but most of them sell the usual crap. And then there’s the one and only stall that sells healthy porridge and dessert, and that’s my parents’ stall.
You can choose to either dine in or takeaway. Most of our sales were takeaway, which is normal for a morning market business I guess 🙄 .
If you do go and try out my mom’s food, feel free to let her (or me) know what you really think. She is at the moment (since she is still new) very open to feedback. I’m obviously biased, so my feedback is no good. 🙄
Oh! I almost forgot. I think I mentioned about curry puffs somewhere, didn’t I?
It appears that this is rather popular. If you are familiar with the Yulek Market, you may remember a certain auntie who used to walk around the market and peddle her curry puffs out of a basket in hand. But she stopped coming since a long while ago. Well, this auntie happens to be the curry puffs supplier that I mentioned earlier. According to my mom, the first time they put these puffs on display, the old timer patrons immediately recognized them and the puffs were sold out in no time.
I have yet to sample this curry puff to see if it is really that good, because, well… they were sold out. We only get to eat what’s left after business. 🙄
Sigh… I actually finished typing this post an hour ago, and then I have been yoyo-ing between hitting the Publish button or Delete button.
I do want my parents’ food stall to be successful, but writing about it makes me feel like a “bad” son. A part of me can’t help but berate myself for promoting their food stall when I should be worrying about how to be able support their livelihood entirely and get them off any form of work at all, ASAP. 🙁