Streetscapes: Pudu Wai Sek Kai still going strong 50 years on

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on July 15, 2019 - July 21, 2019.

Plastic tables and chairs are set up in the evening for the crowds that come in search of delicious hawker fare

The main food hub is near the intersection with Jalan Pudu

First Assembly of God Church is one of the oldest landmarks in Jalan Sayur

Chun Kei Tai Bu Noodle has been selling Hakka noodles since 1931

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Jalan Sayur in Pudu, better known as Pudu Wai Sek Kai, which literally means Pudu Glutton Street, certainly lives up to its moniker. It is believed that Jalan Sayur, which means Vegetable Street in Malay, got its name due to its proximity to the Pudu wet market, which sells fresh produce, among other goods.

Stretching for about 130m between Jalan Kancil and Jalan Pudu, the main food hub is nearer to its intersection with the latter road. There, foodies can enjoy traditional Chinese street food throughout the day, with more choices available in the evening.

One of the area’s oldest landmarks is the First Assembly of God Church, which was founded in the 1950s when the street was still spelt as Jalan Sayor. Interestingly, a coffee shop diagonally opposite the church retains the old spelling of the street on its signboard.

The opening of Pusat Tuisyen Martin in a shoplot some time back resulted in more students flocking to the neighbourhood.

Two years ago, Jalan Sayur made the headlines when an early morning blaze destroyed a row of stalls. They have since been rebuilt and are now back in operation.

One of my favourite food places there is Chun Kei Hakka Noodle, better known as Chun Kei Tai Bu Noodle, which I was introduced to as a primary school student. The vendors have been selling Hakka noodles since 1931, and the business is now run by the fourth generation.

Before the fire in 2017, Chun Kei was run from a zinc-roofed stall near Jalan Pudu. Back then, I would always see someone working on the noodle dough using a bamboo pole.

Now, the business operates at the stall only in the evening. During the day, it moves to a shop somewhere in the middle of the street.

Come evening, plastic tables and chairs are set up to await the crowds that come here in search of delicious hawker fare. Fried chicken, congee, char koay teow, pork innards soup, stir-fried dishes, curry chee cheong fun, dessert and herbal tea are among the treats on offer.

Metro Homes Sdn Bhd director See Kok Loong notes that Jalan Sayur is an old area and the businesses there are mostly in the printing industry. The residents comprise mainly local seniors and foreign workers.

He says few transactions are seen in the area. “There was only one transaction in 2008, when a ground-floor shop with a built-up of 1,184 sq ft was sold for RM220,000.”

As I dig into my Dai Pu noodles, I recall the many happy memories the stroll down the street has brought back to mind.