You are staying up for an all-nighter, either because you’re working overtime on a project or you’re chasing after that rare monster in a particular MMORPG. Suddenly, you hear a growl: it’s not a monster; it’s your stomach. You got quite hungry. Time for supper! You put on a pair of shorts and get your house keys. And as soon as you reached the door, you suddenly remembered: Curses, the MCO is still going on, and there are no mamak restaurants or Mekdi open at this hour! You miss all the best late-night suppers such as cheese naan, BBQ chicken wings, burger bakar, and even the occasional ikan bakar Portugis. Sure, you can always order them before the shops close at 8 pm, but it’s never the same when you are reheating them for supper as compared to getting them fresh from the kitchen or stall. What now? Hope you didn’t run out of instant noodles at home, at least one or two packets of Maggi or Indomie in the kitchen.
Compared to most other countries in the world, Malaysia’s super-late-night supper appears to be an anomaly. While some countries like Norway have dinner as early as 4 pm or 5 pm, other countries would have dinnertimes around 6 pm to 9 pm, with 11 pm in Spain being counted as one of the latest mealtimes. Still, Malaysian supper culture only begins at 11 pm, and mamak restaurants commonly operate for 24 hours. This is similar to the siu yeh or yexiao culture of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Guangdong, Fujian, and some parts of southern mainland China which starts from 9 pm and ends at 4 am when the yum cha session would take over. The Malaysian supper culture would be most apparent during football season when matches across the world are being played live on television, and mamak restaurants would accommodate the patrons watching them at around 2 am or 3 am in the morning. Of course, the best part about the Malaysian supper culture is that it brings all the different races together: everyone can equally enjoy a good mamak meal, and even bond over a cup of teh tarik or three.
How do you identify a good supper spot? For some, it is as obvious as the fact that the place is filled with people even at odd hours like 1 am in the morning. One such example is Damansara Uptown Hokkien Mee, which opens until 2:30 am in the morning. Others include Aik Yuen Hokkien Mee behind Hospital Tawakal, Jalan Alor Chicken Wings, Jin Xuan Hong Kong Dim Sum and 222 Food Court Nasi Lemak. Many mamak places have their own specialities, from cheese naan to special roti like Roti Durian in Maha Maju, Kampar, Perak—this one is so delicious that even those who normally don’t like durian would order seconds! Those in Malacca would surely be familiar with satay celup; to the uninitiated, it’s like lok-lok or steamboat, but with satay peanut gravy instead of the usual soup broth.
As soon as the MCO is over, we all have our favourite mamaks to visit, and they would be just as happy to see us all back in their premises. Here are some of our favourite supper hangouts:
Dante: Restoran Nasi Kandar Deen. They have the tastiest roti canai and dhal combination, especially if you order them as roti banjir, then they will really banjir your whole plate with hot, delicious dhal.
Josh: BRJ Bistro Corner; their nasi lemak is ideal for me, just nice. It’s also a popular choice for most locals there MOSTLY TAR Students, cos it’s got many BURGER stalls and Chinese eateries. Almost like Wai Sek Kai.
John: Seapark Nasi Lemak, because their nasi lemak is awesomely good and satisfying with their sambal so rich and flavourful and not forgetting their awesome finger-licking good ayam goreng berempah. Top that up with our local favourite Indomie with sunny side up, yumz!
Michelle: A&W 🤓 for their famous waffles topped with vanilla ice cream, root beer and Coney Dog! Curly fries too!