Hawkers – Eating out Malaysian style


It seems that most people in Malaysia eat out rather than prepare food at home. That is the way I perceive the eating situation, as unless there is a lot of people for a big family meal, we go out, or food is brought in.

There are the standard restaurants with table clothes and menus, being mostly very cheap, say 60 – 100 Ringit (Malaysian Dollars) or £10 – £15 for six people, but the best way to eat is to go to the hawker stands.

Hawkers are people who will specialise in one specific type of food or cooking style, and they will set-up a stand, mostly at night, and there they will prepare and cook on demand their single offering.

Here is a family that specialisms in pancakes. They have a small open sided van, parked on the side of the road, and they cook a variety of pancakes with fillings such as corn, crushed peanuts, coconut, black sugar. 

Malaysian hawker selling pancakes Malaysian hawker selling pancakes


Other hawkers will set-up their stands in groups, in open sided restaurants, with each stand advertising what they are cooking. Some hawker restaurants specialise in say fish, or duck and that is all you get, but there will be such a variety within that specialty.

Malaysian open-sided hawker restaurant    Malaysian hawker stand selling duck
                        open-sided hawker restaurant                                                 hawker stand selling duck


Above, an open fronted hawker restaurant with two portable hawker stands made from stainless steel and glass, with diners sitting on the obligatory plastic chairs, plus a hawker stand preparing a wide variety of duck meals.

Other hawker restaurants will be on a grander scale with vast variety of food being offered. Individuals from the dining group will go up to the hawker of choice, order the meal, and then go and sit at the usual round table and plastic chair with their fellow diners and wait. A few minutes later the meal will arrive. So cheap, 1 or 2 Ringit (Malaysian Dollar), say 50 pence (UK).

;Hawker restuarant, Penang    Hawker restuarant, Downing Street Penang
It is usual that the hawkers pay a rent for their stand to the restaurant/facility owner, and it is the restaurant/facility owner that sell drinks, my favourite being Milo Peng, iced Milo.

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