Out of sight, out of mind – so the saying goes. For many traditional hawkers in Malaysia, this phrase has been the reality they have had to face over the past few months during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.
With the majority of Malaysians now accustomed to the convenience and ease of getting their food delivered to their doorstep, many hawkers that are not visible or present online are forgotten or left out of the food delivery digital ecosystem.
The gap between those who are technologically savvy and those who are not has widened further, especially for the older generation of hawkers who are at a loss on how to adapt to today’s digital world.
“We couldn’t bear to see any of them (hawkers) disappear or close down, they are a big part of Malaysia’s culture and our culinary heritage. It’s such a shame that some hawkers have closed due to the absence of online presence during MCO and RMCO when their business problems which can be addressed in part through digital inclusion,” said Albert Wong, Co-founder of The Other Kitchen.
Wong said the MCO is a wakeup call for many F&B businesses, that the digitalised food delivery industry is here to stay. “If your store is not found anywhere on the Internet available to order, you can be easily forgotten,”
“So we’ve made it our quest to preserve Malaysia’s unique food culture by providing our local hawkers the online push and presence to flourish and digitally transform their business through our customised Online Restaurant System (ORS) hosted on http://www.other.kitchen.” said Albert.
“Always keeping in mind that cost is a factor especially for these hawkers, we’ve kept our rates affordable at a flat rate of 2 percent transaction fee per order compared to other 3rd-party food delivery marketplace apps that take at least a minimum of 30 percent,” added Albert.
The challenge now is getting the older generation of hawkers to take the first step is what will make a difference. Wong said age should not be a barrier to the adoption of technology and older generations of hawkers should not underestimate their ability to make the digital transition.
“We want to address their fears and concerns – to see how we can help them make the leap onto the digitalisation journey that could open up many more possibilities – while holding their hands along the way,” Albert chirped.
Lionel Lau, partner of The Other Kitchen explained why these affordable “cheap eats” local eateries need more attention compared to the rest. “They may not be particularly well-groomed, articulate, or even tech-savvy.”
“In reality, they are masters who have perfected their craft. Throughout decades, they still stayed behind their cramped, tiny stalls, cooking up a storm despite receiving little acknowledgment or respect for what they do.”
“They are the cornerstones of our community, nurturing us all with their delicious yet affordable fare. Their recipes can be considered as national treasures, an irreplaceable part of our history that’s passed down through generations. That is why here, we call them the Local Legends,” Lionel added.
In appreciation of these Local Legends and to help document their rich culinary heritage, The Other Kitchen has put together a 45-minute long food documentary detailing their background, history, business struggles, and achievements. The documentary is scheduled to be released by September 2020.
“As Malaysians and passionate foodies, we would like to help. People need to know how and why the Local Legends – the stalwarts of Malaysia’s culinary scene continue doing what they do. Digital marketing and videography happen to be our forte to tell their story.” added Wong.
Some of these Local Legends have been in business for at least 20 years and above. For example, Yut Kee Restaurant is one of the oldest restaurants in Malaysia which has been serving traditional Hainanese fare since 1928.
Other notable names of the F&B industry that make up the list are Robert Char Kuey Teow, Uncle Soon Fried Rice, Choon Prawn Mee, Wang Chiew Seafood Restaurant, Hon Kee Famous Porridge, Loong Foong Roast Duck, Ah Weng Koh, and Yang Ki Beef Noodle, and more.
Patrons of Local Legends can also find their online store on DiineOut.com, an online marketplace focusing on providing curated dining experiences, further elevating unique dining choices for Malaysians.
Since MCO started on 18 March 2020, The Other Kitchen and DiineOut.com have initiated the #JomTapau movement and successfully digitalise the ordering and payment processes for over 450 eateries nationwide.
Lau sums it up: “You could say we’re taking a human-centric approach to online food delivery. Our customers and restaurants have consistently commended our friendly and attentive customer service. It’s not just about the food or service. For us, it’s about supporting Malaysian culture in the digital age.”
To support our Local Legends, go to http://www.other.kitchen to place orders. Also, stay tuned to the full documentary release here https://www.facebook.com/TheOtherKitchen/ or watch the trailer here: https://bit.ly/32bPKww