First there is the you-char-kway or you-tiao (油条). Watching the hawker prepare the you-char-kway on the spot was such a delight. It reminded me of a stall that was not far from my house in my kampong. As a kid, I liked to watch the hawker fry the yck. It was fascinating to see the yck expand rapidly in the boiling oil. In the photo below, the hawker used a pair of tongs to turn the yck; but traditionally, the correct tool should be a long pair of chopsticks.
And then there is the putu mayam. Nowadays in Singapore, the putu mayam that I see being sold in the coffee shops are all factory-produced. They come packed neatly in a plastic bag. When I see the hawker remove the slices of putu mayam from the plastic packet, I lose my appetite. The packet resembled a packet of serviettes! Here in Muar, the hawker sold his putu mayam from a huge metallic container just like in our kampong days. Back then, the vendor was an Indian man who came to our village to peddle his putu mayam on a bicycle just like in this photo. Furthermore, the gula Melaka was also home-made and tasted much better than the mass produced type in modern-day Singapore.
Besides these, there were also vendors selling nonya kuehs as well as fried chye tau kway. The sight of the trays of eggs reminded me of an interesting practice in those days. To save on the cost, we usually brought our own egg and the hawker would be happy to add it in for us.
To round of the experience, we were served thick black coffee in traditional china cups and saucers. Even the Hainanese spoken by the coffee lady was reminiscent of our kampong days.
What a delightful breakfast that was in Muar. Like General MacArthur, my Singapore friends and I pledged; “We shall return!”