Penang uncle selling apam balik

Roadside stalls selling some of our country’s best street food are a permanent and iconic feature in Malaysia cities’ streets. Most of these stalls are operated by elderly uncles and aunties too, and with affordable prices for food to boot, which makes them community gems.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic situation persisting, and the MCO still in place, many businesses, including these roadside stalls, have been hit hard. The good thing is that Malaysians are always willing to help, either by creative ways such as helping to bring attention to these sellers, or by offering jobs to affected individuals. Turning to her community, a Malaysian lady took to her Facebook account to share her experience of buying apam balik from an elderly uncle at Fettes Park in Penang. Despite a slow day of business at his roadside stall, he remade her orders when the pancakes didn’t turn out right and even gave her a free apam balik.

Generous uncle selling apam balik at Fettes Park

Fa Abdul shared the story on her Facebook page on 6th October 2020. According to the lengthy post, she was at Fettes Park, a residential area in Tanjung Tokong, Penang, when she bumped into the Chinese uncle’s humble roadside stall under a tree that’s situated right across a Hong Leong Bank branch in the area.

Generous uncle selling apam balik in Penang
Image credit: Fa Abdul

He had called out to her to ask if she wanted to buy any apam baliks – or as most Penangites would call it, ban chang kuih. This was because it had been a slow business day for him. Rather than just buying one or two apam baliks like the rest of us normally would, Abdul went ahead and ordered 10 apam baliks from him.

To show his gratitude, he threw in a free apam balik for her bulk order.

Generous uncle selling apam balik in Penang
The roadside stall sells 9 different types of apam balik, priced from RM1 to RM2.
Image credit: Fa Abdul

Abdul also shared that instead of churning out her bulk order, the uncle remade any apam baliks that didn’t turn out the way that he wanted it too.

Generous uncle selling apam balik in Penang
Image credit: Fa Abdul

She also shared in her post a short, but heartwarming, conversation between the uncle and an Indian customer who patronised the stall after her. Abdul wrote that the customer had tried to spoil the results of a football match that happened a day before, with the uncle cheerily replying: “Please lah, please, don’t tell me! If you tell me, I won’t enjoy the game anymore.”

From the familiarity of the interaction, Abdul deduced that the uncle is a friendly face in the neighbourhood.

Netizens reach out to show support for roadside uncle

After Abdul shared her post, several individuals have also come out to share their experiences with the roadside stall uncle. This included Chew Soon See, who commented, “Yes, his [apam balik] is certainly yummy. He is a very generous man… always gives freebies.” She also added that the uncle usually sets up shop around 12PM at the same location.

Generous uncle selling apam balik in Penang - Facebook Comment
Image adapted from: Chew Soon See

Chew’s comment proved useful, as many other commenters wrote that they wished they had known about the uncle’s store. Priya Thillainathan commented, “Wish I’d known this… was looking for apam balik when I was there last week.”

Generous uncle selling apam balik in Penang - Facebook Comment
Image adapted from: Priva Thillainathan 

There were many other netizens who came out to say that the uncle’s apam balik was indeed delicious, with Christina Anne Karl even claiming, “The best in Fettes Road… my favourite spot.”

Generous uncle selling apam balik in Penang - Facebook Comment
Image adapted from: Christina Anne Karl

Uncle in Penang keeps chin up while selling apam balik

Roadside stalls are a gem in Malaysia, as they offer up comfort food that don’t burn a hole in our wallets. So we applaud individuals such as Fa Abdul, who is shining a light on roadside sellers such as this uncle selling apam balik at Fettes Park, to help spread word about good food and small businesses at this time.

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Cover image adapted from: Fa Abdul

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