Thursday, July 15, 2004

Invasion of a different kind

Have you ever walk into a food court in PJ or KL and you suddenly feel you are in Vietnam?

Today, me and Mami went to Ming Tien food court in Taman Megah for lunch. First thing you will notice is the waiter from the beverage stall. "Yam meh?" he greeted in cantonese, wanted to take your order for beverage. He is a foreign worker from a country in Indochina: Vietnam, lia mah Myanmar, Cambodia whatever. They all look the same to me.

Then when we go from stall to stall to check out the food we noticed almost all the stalls are manned by these foreign workers too. Chicken rice, Claypot Chicken, Ipoh Hor Fun, Chee Cheung Fun, Curry Mee, Popiah, Sizzling hotplate, almost all of them. And most of them speaks fluent Cantonese.

Foreign worker 1 : "Kai Fan ngam mou?" ("Chicken rice for you?")

Foreign worker 2 : "Lou sai. Hor fun?" ("Sir/Boss, how about Hor Fun")

Foreign worker 3 : "Yau Ka Li Meen. Yau Cheng Tong" (We have Curry Mee, we have clear soup")

Some of them Cantonese are even better than Mami.

Now, this is the trend. The original owner of the stall trained these foreign workers to cook. Then they will leave the stalls to them to handle, while they go holiday in Vietnam. At the end of the day they will pocket the money and simply pay these workers their salary. Easy money. But the food is lousy. Tasteless.

So sooner or later, they will learn how to cook, master the skills, discover the secret ingredients and become experts. So next time we won't find 'Ah Kau Chicken Rice' or 'Meng Chai Curry Mee' but 'Pratchon Chicken Rice' or 'Phuoc Quang Chee Cheung Fun' or even 'Nguyen Ngau Lam Mee'.