06 November 2010

Pakcik Reminisces ( Part 12 ) – Oh my God, what am I eating - Section (i)?

News from
Published: 2010/09/07


By Sharen Kaur
Jom Makan, will open its third outlet in the UK on September 27 at the Loughborough University.

The opening represents a major coup for the Malaysian restaurant brand as it will be the first full-fledged Malaysian food outlet to operate in a PRESTIGIOUS CAMPUS in the UK.

With an annual STUDENT POPULATION of 25,000, Jom Makan will introduce the Malaysian dining experience that will impact the future international working population for Malaysian cuisine.

Jom Makan serves fast, fresh Malaysian food of the traditional and hawker vendor styles with a fusion touch.

It will offer HALAL MEALS to the students, the Muslim community and general public in the Nottingham, Liecestershire and Loughborough areas.

Mohd Zuhri Abdullah, the managing director of Jom Makan in the UK, said he is proud to open a third outlet in the region and serve healthy and tasty Malaysian meals in a prestigious campus.

"(The) Loughborough University is an exciting new site for us and great news for the thousands of students who will be given the opportunity to sample real Malaysian food at a great price right on campus," Mohd Zuhri said in a statement.

"With the third outlet, we believe it will open up spin-off opportunities," he said.

Mohd Zuhri said pricing of the Malaysian dishes at the university will be more affordable than at commercial restaurants in London.

The first Jom Makan outlet opened at Pall Mall East near Trafalgar Square in June 2008, followed by the second outlet at Westfield Shopping Centre in White City in October 2009.


Business Times had the above item published but I do not read Business Times. In my part of the world if I need to read the nst daily, I would have to drive to a newsagent who only gets his supply by about 11 am – sorry, no home deliveries available! Fortunately, knowing that this news item would be of interest to me, a close friend had it e-mailed.

Having read the news I am pleased to see that Loughborough is, first of all, regarded as a perstigious campus with an annual population of 25,000. During my time it was not as populous 55 years ago. But it had the pride of having students from 52 countries in the world, for which reason the Club of International Students played a role then. I know that because I had the honour of being its Secretary for two years.

Then, secondly, Loughborough now has a Malaysian restaurant serving Halal meals.

Yes my memory flashed back 55 years, yes indeed, back to 1956/57. As I am putting this down I see in my mind’s eye the campus, the cold foundry where I was made to work in the freezing winter, the heated swimming pool where I enjoyed my swim in mid-December, the many tennis courts, the town hall, the beautiful falling leaves in the park, the early spring cherry blossoms along Forest Road, the famous bell making factory in town, the forest up the Beacon Hill where the young went loitering in summer.
And the misery of not having Malayan food.

And today, half a century later, Jom Makan is serving HALLAL Malaysian meals!

And I remmber today how I struggled to suppress my craving for what resembled Malayan. For that, every so often and all alone, I would board a bus to take me to Leicester city about 25 km away. Two shop corners away from the bus station was an Indian restaurant. Did it serve hallal food? I did not wish to know as it did not matter if what I wished to have was simply some rice and prawn curry, none of the exotic chicken and meat dishes. I wanted some real rice (not the English rice pudding) and the taste of spices. Then, half an hour later, satisfied, a lonely young man I was, walked back to the station and boarded another bus home - until the next time, I promised myself.

Then the opening of a Chinese restaurant in this very English town was news among the Hong Kong students – the first oriental restaurant, can you believe it? They all talked and were excited about it. To me it meant rice for certain. Feeling somewhat generous I pulled my friend from Nigeria aside.

“Paul, how about some fried rice for lunch?” I knew Paul Emirinini was game for anything. When he grinned, the set of white teeth would seem whiter against the shiny dark face, a charming fellow.

So it was to be simple Chinese fried rice with egg and marshroom. I was certain that, without asking too many questions, it should be ‘safe’ enough. Yes we sat down comfortably talking and enjoying the dish when among the egg pieces a few fine cubes of pale reddish substance caught my attention.“Oh my God, what am I eating?” I asked myself, yet knowing it too well even without beeing told what those fine pieces were; and without alarming my guest I stopped, calling the waiter for some desserts to follow.

No I will never ever forget that incident` half a century ago. Living in that kind of environment I learnt to rationalise in order to console myself and to survive - Prophet Muhammad asked the Arabs to travel all the way east to China to seek knowledge, and I took the opposite direction, but for the same purpose. Surely God is most forgiving.

( to be continued in part ii )

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk


ninotaziz said...

Of course God is forgiving. Umatnya however have such diffficulty with forgiveness.

Oh, I really loved International Student affairs. We have something in common then. I had the privilege of being VP to my good friend Verlia Stephens from T&T in the Carleton Uni International Student Assocc.CAMSA the Msian Student group was very active and we held open houses during Hari Raya, Chinese New Year and Xmas!

Thank you Pakcik for the memories.

kaykuala said...

Dear Pakcik,
How wonderful to read of your reminiscences. I went through exactly the same harrowing episode in Holland in 1973. I was with OP Mazni. We had just arrived in Den Haag (The Hague) We thought it would be 'safe' having fried rice at the nearest Chinese Restaurant.
We had gone through a bit of the dish when we noticed these little pieces of 'pinkish things' ( barely the size of 'kacang hijau') To our horror the waiter confirmed it a few minutes later when we called him. We had earlier told him , 'no pork'. He said it couldn't be helped as in making fried rice they had to pour in half a cup of soup into the pan together with the rice. How else would they get the savoury taste they reasoned. The pork was from the soup. They didn't purposely put them in. They were aware of our concern. Afterall those were small pieces they reasoned. ' You can just ignore or put aside!'
We just paid and left.

We later found a number of halal 'Indisch Restaurants' of those Indonesians of Ambon extracts. An Ambon from Moluccas is darkish with sharp chins and flat heads. It somewhat looked triangular. After some time in Holland I could make out easily a Moluccan from a distance. Apart from that we could take 'herring' raw fish, a speciality in Holland. It tasted like cuttle-fish, nice! It was sold in kiosks dotted all over town. With the stipend that we got fancy restaurants were rare outings. And I was game to try anything new at least once!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Dear Pakcik,
I think you compile your reminiscing into a book. Not in gganuspeak but in proper Queen's English, purrrlease. purrr...meow!

ninotaziz said...

Aaahhhhh, finally my own story of this pinkish meat. I was three years old on the plane with my mother. We were going back to Malaysia from Australia- first trip ever for me.

Then the airstewardess brought a plate of something which i guess was ham. Mum took one look and sent it away. I remember I was wearing a green dress of same pattern with my Mum. And the air stewardess called me back because I forgot my golliwog!

Funny how memories just flood the senses.

I haven't thought about this for a very long time. I have b/w white photos, maybe I will post it on my blog!

Al-Manar said...


At least we share somethin in common, an active and varied early life, the experience of which contributes to making what we are, whatever it may be.

I was deliberating hard whether to post this particular entry, revealing too much of 'self'. If on the other hand that helps to jog your memory then it is not all that bad. Post your photo, with a pantun, perhaps?

Al-Manar said...


It is strange how we all have certain experience in common. So post it the pantun way my friend while the memory is fresh

Al-Manar said...


One swallow doesn't make a summer.
One incident to make a memoir?
Someone will say I smell rat!!

Joking aside, thank you for the suggestion. It has not come to that stage and is not like to I am afraid.

kaykuala said...

Dear Pakcik,
Yes, Pakcik props for pantuns. I wonder if I can get it back again. It was 'geli' when it happened. I'll put it to the back burner for the time being.

norzah said...

A very nice read, very well put together, Akhi Pakcik Al-Manar. I really admire that young man man who travelled 25 kg each way to have some rice and prawns. Well, I'm sure all of us who had studied overseas had some similar experience with the pale pinkish meat. hen really hungry for rice, what can we say but just pushed away what we don't want.

I'm also proud of the Jom Makan venture.All I can say is that once the Mat Saleh gets a taste of chili and sambal, he'll usually come back for more.Salam.

Anonymous said...

"Prayer is a free outgoing call to GOD
no network or battery problem
always good signal & all messages sent
Make prayer a habit."
Nurislam Nurislam Amanie

Al-Manar said...

Akhi Norzah,

The younger generation is not likely to face this kind of food problem. They ought to know what life was like those days. No doubt there are other problems faced today, something we never thought of, perhaps.

Al-Manar said...


That is a good quotation.

Sir Pök Déng said...

I don't have any interesting experience regarding the 'white meat'. Never had a hard time finding halal restaurants in Kuching and Kota Samarahan.

It's just we were adapting ourselves the new environment where a line of halal warongs are located exactly opposite to the non-halal ones. 'In a calling distance' as Harper Lee would address to describe the location. So it wasn't a weird sight seeing Melayu-faced people who are actually the Dayaks (of course, with some real Melayu pretend to be Dayak; they had no tattoos) get muka merah for drinking cans/bottles of Carlsberg and Heineken.

Had a humble experience where I had to sit with the same table with my non-muslim friends. They ordered pork-based foods - mee kolok (traditional noodles of Sarawak, non muslim version: pork added). kuey tiow babi, nasi babi (pork version of nasi yam), and so on. I do not consider myself as part of Islam Liberal movement but I made no cringe seeing my non-muslim buddies enjoyed their dinner in front of me.

So that was the time I learned about what makes this white meat so special to its fans. The fat content is delicious, as one of them stated. Its morphology (sorry, science word) makes the meat actually melt in their mouth. Overall, pork is a lot flavourful than red meats and other types of halal white meats eg. ayam, unta.

Anonymous said...

Salam Pakcik

I used to have dinner at a warong in an alley with my non muslim friends. As the place was not that clean I would order and ask the cook to deliver at a chinese coffee shop next to it and enjoyed my soto, mee rebus or whatever. The whole office was abuzz that I ate daging kaki pendek ...

I once joind a China tour group and was the only muslim, but I went prepared with very dry serondang daging and sambal udang kering and as the others enjoyed their food I would always order plain rice and 2 boiled eggs, when mixed with the sambals, they tasted out of this world and was the envy of all the other tourists who would ask for some but of course I refused to give since they would have to last all through the weeklong trip. The guide said "I very pity you !!!".

Selamat Hari Raya Haji to you, Salmah and family.


Al-Manar said...

Sir Pok Deng,

That 'in a calling distance' between halal and non halal sralls, and sharing the same eating table seemed to have given you an opportunity to learn quite a lot about that meat to the extent that it can 'melt' in the mouth. Melilih air liur orang mendengar! I wonder if there is such a course called 'babiology' at one of the universities in Sarawak.

Al-Manar said...


I your case the policy is 'be prepared' . Have serondeng will travel. Unfortunately certain countries will not allow that to be brought into their countries.

Selamat hari raya to you too. We are likely to have a very wet one by the look it.

Temuk said...


Selamat menyambut hari raya Kurban.

It is interesting to note that discussions on this halal-haram thing is now gaining momentum even among the non-Muslims, everywhere. Making Malaysia the halal hub of Southeast Asia is a fantastic idea as it has also made us realize that we ourselves should not be concerned with merely the halal status of food and other services in the market, but also whether they are safe to use. Activities that adhere to the 'halalan-toyyiban' principle would certainly gain popularity even among the non-Muslims in today's business world.

Al-Manar said...


Indeed we have gone a long way on halal food. We have been around long enough to see the development up to making us the halal hub in this region.

I am pleased to see that you choose to raise the question of 'activities that adhere to the halalan-toyyiban principle'. The food may be halal but is the means of acquiring the food halal? I do not mean the act of stealing but the very process of accumulating wealth with which we purchase all the halal foodstuff. It is so common to read about people in position being questioned or brought to court. Many are never being brought to court and we hear about them too.

Salaam to you and selamat menyambut hari raya kurban.

kaykuala said...

Dear Pakcik,

Selamat menyambut hari raya Kurban. Things moved fast don't they!
Salam to Makcik and everyone in T'ganu.

Amri Abd Rani said...


"Kuli Batak" merujuk kerja bawahan yg xdipandang namun punya amanah dan t/jwb..

selamat Aidil Adha..maaf zahir batin.

Al-Manar said...

ear Hank,

Sama sama lah berhari raya. Alhamdulillah, ciaca dihari raya cantik. Kita brjaga jaga lah juga kerana amaran hujan lebat sudah diberi.

Al-Manar said...


Tak munkin kalau dalam bidang 'education' ada pula sehina itu kerjanya. Itu sebab saya tertarik dan ingin tahu. Apatah lagi kalau diberi amanah dan t/jawab. Selamat datang tetapi jangan harapkan syair dan pantun, satu bidang yang saya kagumi tetapi amat tidak berkemampuan.

Gukita said...

Pak Cik, your post is nostalgic indeed. Though my UK time was 20years latter... 1976 at Newark Tech College, we had similiar problem. However a Pakistani shop in Nottingham agreed to supply us halal meat once a week. So we organised our selves and ordered in bulk for weekly supply. When the craving for real Muslim food, we had to board a bus to Nottingham, 25miles away which had a sizeable Muslim population..

Al-Manar said...


Newark is less than 50km from where I was and is about the same distance from Nottingham, but we were in different time dilmension, twenty years or about a generation apart. If it was hard for you to get halal meat it could not be easier for me.

How nice it is to know that we were from around the same area of Midlands, perhaps more to share.


Anonymous said...

hmm I agree with the suggestion made by c-i-s that you compile your reminiscing into a book.wah wah wah how beautiful!
I have never seen how pork looks like..hoho


Al-Manar said...


I never thought of that. You are quite right about not seeing what pork looks like. Pasar Kedai Payang and all other 'pasars' in Terengganu do not sell that. Kalau ada orang jual tentu lariskan?

nordinmusa said...

I had my share of that 'thing' in my plate as well. In 1994, i was on my way home from Los Angeles, boarding Singapore Airlines. I had earlier requested my meals to be a muslim meal. And their idea of a muslim meal was that, when they served my tray, they pointed out to that smoked pig foot and said, " Don't eat this!". That European beside me looked puzzled asked me why. I said it's religious thing. And he didnt eat that thing either.

Al-Manar said...

If this could happen in 1976 imagine what could happen 20 years earlier.

Unknown said...

dear pakchik, i am somewhere in early 2009 in your blog. but my thoughts keep coming back to this particular post.
i feel for that young man who traveled all that way for a plate of home.
my eldest sister, barely out of her teens, had been sent to england in the early 60's to be trained at a teachers college. one night her hostel building burnt down and she escaped with her life in only her pajamas. there were others whom were not so fortunate. in the chaos, nobody noticed that she had wandered off. she was found wandering aimlessly calling out for our mother. whom was it that chanced upon her? a young johorian who is now my bro-in-law. talk about dramatic 'how i met my spouse'...

Al-Manar said...


Would you allow me to know more about your sister, perhaps through your brother-in-law?
Please email me your answer