Around 7A.M., a figure could be seen riding an old motorcycle which bore a metal case, slowly heading towards the junction between Pudu Integrated Commercial Complex (ICC Pudu) and Pudu Plaza, the vehicle is then propped beside a lamppost. Uncle Chai Tsim Luk opens the metal case and starts prepping the fresh ingredients purchased daily from the market: cutting sheets of meat jerky into strips, and topping up the empty container with meat floss. The charcoal inside the portable stove is already ignited, all the necessary preparations have been made. At 8A.M., Uncle Chai starts selling charcoal-grilled meat jerky and floss buns, till noon or sold out.
Meat jerky and floss bun was a creative approach by meat jerky stores to promote consumption of meat jerky besides being a festive food during Chinese New Year. Affordable and tasty, substantial and convenient, meat jerky and floss bun was the hype of the 1960s and 70s. Hawkers seized the business opportunity and sprung up everywhere, popularizing the meat jerky and floss bun which then became a classic breakfast fare.
Firstly, slice the bun horizontally, spread with butter, and grill until crispy and aromatic. Uncle Chai carefully trims the burnt bits away, and spreads more butter before adding fillings. He piles up the meat floss and a few cucumber slices, add a strip of jerky, and then squeeze some chilli sauce or ketchup based on customer preference.
Uncle Chai hailed from Sentul, a born-and-bred KL-ite. During his youth, he worked as a movie projectionist, a deliveryman and various other jobs. In his hectic lifestyle, he fell in love with the common and affordable meat jerky and floss bun. He happened to make an acquaintance with a hawker whom he frequented, and started selling meat jerky and floss buns in the morning, after he finished his night shift at the cinema. When the cinema ceased operations, he became an itinerant hawker, with flexible work hours and locations. He works if the weather permits, and rests when it rains.
The eye-catching yellow signboard is handwritten by Uncle Chai himself, who acquired a bold calligraphy style from decades of writing movie flyers at the cinema. Since the British colonization era, Malaysians have started to adopt English names. Uncle Chai took a liking to the name ‘Winson’, transliterating it into ‘everlasting victory’ in Chinese, also containing good hopes for his enterprise. In his younger days, he went around crowded places, such as housing areas in Cheras, Bukit Bintang, and Chow Kit road. As he grew frailer with age, he chose to set up a stall in a fixed spot at Imbi wet market, now relocated to ICC Pudu.
Uncle Chai believes that good grooming is courtesy to others, therefore he always keeps up a neat and clean appearance. Sporting a short-sleeved shirt, trousers, and black leather shoes, he appears to be full of spirit despite being over 80 years old. Uncle Chai thoroughly enjoys his job, as working hours are short, and no abusive scolding by superiors involved. Over the past 40 years, most of his fellow hawkers either changed jobs or switched to using gas stoves, yet he sticks to using a cumbersome charcoal stove to maintain the authentic flavour. Even though ingredient costs continue to hike, he only implemented slight price increases. Now that fellow hawkers are selling at RM4 to RM5 per piece, Uncle Chai sells at RM3.30, the portions remain generous. A single man, he only needs to generate sufficient income to sustain himself, without having to worry about feeding a family.
Pursuing his passion for a career, Uncle Chai retains an upbeat attitude and enjoys an ordinary life. An old motorcycle and a custom-made metal case keeps him company in making ends meet. He is satisfied with what he has, and is honest and kind, reaping a comfortable lifestyle.
有你 UNI Production
Producer : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang / Michael Lerk
Drone : Daniel Lim
Video Editor : Michael Lerk
Copywriter : Pua Hui Wen
音乐 Music : 《Nature》
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