Hawkers look for peace of mind over profits

Cheap and good: Lim preparing mee jawa for customers at his stall in a coffee shop in Farlim, Penang. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: A clear conscience instead of high profit margins is what some hawkers want and when you find them, be prepared for prices that put a smile on your face.

Try mee jawa for RM2.50 and char koay kak for RM3.

Sure, you will not find these prices in places where tourists congregate.

These hawkers are instead located in Ayer Itam’s residential areas, which have the densest working-class population in the state, and hawkers there respond to their market dynamics accordingly.

Lim Lean Hoe, 68, sells mee jawa for a mere RM2.50 a plate.

Twenty years ago, it was RM2. He raised it to RM2.50 in 2013.

“I don’t need to increase the price anymore even though the cost of ingredients like noodles has gone up.

“The profits are enough for my wife and I. My two daughters are grown up and have their own families. I don’t need anything else,” he said.

“It is about my conscience. The more people who can eat because my price is low, the better I feel.

“The economy is not great and people work hard to make ends meet. I do not want customers to feel down because they cannot even afford a bowl of mee jawa,” he said.

Running his stall alone, Lim does not even charge when customers request for extra noodles.

But due to his age, he makes sure he gets enough rest by only selling 30kg of noodles per day, which works out to around 200 plates of mee jawa.

Nearby, in Medan Angsana, one can get char koay kak with two eggs for RM3 a plate.

Wai Meng Sun, 62, has been selling the food at a coffee shop for that price since five years ago.

He sells a plate of char koay kak without eggs for RM2, while for a plate of char koay kak with two eggs, it’s only RM3.

Those who want bigger portions can order the RM4 or RM5 plates.

“I know most of my customers come from B40 families, so I do not have the heart to charge higher,” said Wai.

Wai sells from 7am to 11am daily.

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