Sunday, October 23, 2016

[Vanishing Trade] The Mamak Shop along Jln Todak

Mr Majid standing proudly in front of his mamak store
Tucked away along the five-foot way of Jalan Todak stands a provision shop or what we locally call, a Mamak Shop. I've passed by the shop many times but today, there was something about the shop that caught my attention.

The owner did not seemed too bothered whether there was business or not. In the 30 minutes that I'd observed the shop from the opposite coffeeshop. He sold just two packs of cigarettes and in between, he'd just plonked himself down on a plastic chair, looking out towards nothingness.

Looking out towards Lorong Todak
I cooked up an excuse to stop by his shop, saying that I'd wanted to buy some sweets. His shop offered none as he said that, "the sweets will melt. Maybe you want to go to 7-Eleven".

The ice was broken and this was the opportunity for me to have a closer look at his wares and at the same time, find out more about this interesting mamak shop.

Cigarettes, cigarette paper, lighters, lighter fuel

Looking at what Mr Majid has at his hole-in-the-wall shop, there were really nothing that interest me, actually. It's cigarettes, cigarettes and more cigarettes.

Though I did not buy anything from this veteran owner, he was still more than willing to talk about the nostalgic past. He claimed that he has been running this Mamak Shop for about 45 years. The building in which the mamak shop is located was said to be built in He's kept the shop opened 365 days a year. In his heydays, his shop used to span about twice its current length and to manage the shop, he used to employ four others, including his brother.

Mr Majid also mentioned that he indeed, sold more items in the past. But now, he has cut down on the items that he's selling. Business was booming in the past as there were popular coffeeshops and a market nearby.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

[Food] Heritage Dish of Johor: Laksa Johor

Laksa Johor [Photo Source: The Star Online]

When I first saw the headlines, I thought it must have been one of those arguments between countries over who has the heritage rights over a certain food. Though what Johor is saying here is that they want to gazette two of their local dishes - Laksa Johor and Asam Pedas. (Musa, 2016)

State Youth, Sports, Culture and Heritage committee chairman Datuk Zulkurnain Kamisan vaguely explained the difference of Johor's Asam Pedas to that of the other Malaysian states, saying that there's a difference in terms of its "hot and spicy gravy".

Laksa Johor
It's much clearer a difference for the Laksa Johor dish. It is said that the late Sultan of Johor, Abu Bakar, visited Italy in the 1800s. After that particular trip, he came up with the idea of replacing normal noodles with Italian spaghetti.

According to Makansutra, this dish is not commonly found even in Johor as it is tedious to prepare. The website then went on to provide the addresses of places that are offering Laksa Johor.

Even in the Johor Istana, the dish is only served at "special occasions and Hari Raya celebrations" (Loh, 2016). I'm pretty sure that our Singapore Ministers would have the opportunity to try the very best of Laksa Johor when they visit the Sultan during Hari Raya.
only at special ceremonies and Hari Raya celebrations.

Read More :
only at special ceremonies and Hari Raya celebrations.

Read More :

So other than being a favourite dish of royalty, what else makes Laksa Johor a heritage dish? I like how this article puts it - it's a heritage dish when it helps to Bind Generations. (Ismail, 2016)


Ismail, S. September 22 2016. Dishes that bind generations. New Straits Times Online. Accessed on October 2, 2016.

Loh, P. July 15 2016. Rich and royal taste. New Straits Times Online. Accessed on October 2, 2016.

Makansutra. November 26 2013. The Royal Laksa Johor. Accessed on October 2, 2016.

Musa Z. September 30 2016. The Star Online. Johor to gazette ‘laksa’ and ‘asam pedas’ as heritage dishes. Accessed on October 1, 2016.