It has been a long time since I last posted on this blog (4 years to be exact) and my numerous attempts to move on to a new blog has failed miserably...
Well it is only apt that this post will appear in this blog as it is something from my past and present but sadly not in the future.
News has been buzzing around about the closure of Imbi Market and its relocation to a new modern site in Pudu. Although the news of its closure has been announced in the past it has never materialised however this time it is for real. Even the vendors have confirmed such pending an exact date although it will be in the next month or so.
I was having a chat with a friend the other day over this piece of news and unexpectedly nostalgia kicked in. I realised that I have a stronger than normal affinity to this market, a 28 years long attachment to be exact. That conversation brought back many fond memories and it also made me realised the even though it was just a wet market, I have forged bonds with this place that went beyond time and distance.
Most people talk about the food stalls and how after the shift, it will never have the same atmosphere it has now with the crowded hustle and bustle beneath the colourful umbrellas. For me, it is much much more than just the food.
Let me take you back to the first time I stepped foot into Imbi market. I was all of 7 years old and a lot shorter than my short self now (Yes, I hardly grew). My mum brought me along for her weekly marketing session and I was tagging along holding on to her pants since her hands were preoccupied. That was when I first met the Chicken Lady whom my mum called Ah Mui, the Pork Man; Ah Chung and the Fruit Man; Kou Lou. I also met the egg lady, vegetable lady and the sundry goods couple but my mum didn't know their names or if she did, I was not told. I was a shy little kid then, often hiding behind my mum as she chit chatted with them about their goods or just any random topics.
That was the first but not last time I met them all. I started following my mum to the Imbi Market more frequently and soon they began to recognise me and I got less shy and would even answer them directly when they spoke to me. This went on for many years despite us moving houses from Mindef in Jalan Semarak to Ampang and then to Cheras. Regardless of where we lived my mum would faithfully go to Imbi market for her weekly marketing. My visits became less frequent as I grew older having other extra curriculums on Saturdays and moving to Johor for University but when I do tag along, the most common comment I get is how much I have grown. Come to think of it, it could be a comment on horizontal growth and not vertical. Haha!
Well fast forward to today, so much has changed and yet still remains the same. For one, my family and I have moved to Puchong and I am now the one doing the weekend marketing instead of my mum. What hasn't change is that I still do my marketing at Imbi Market (Yes, all 60kms of driving to and fro). As for the market, the layout and stalls etc has remain the same from before but yet when you look at the people manning the stalls you start to realised how much time has passed by and how much they have each changed in some way or another.
|Ah Mui and her Daughter|
|Ah Chung and his wife|
|Vincent and his sister with their mum in the background|
|Sundry shop lady|
For the moment, I am told that all the stalls will relocate to the new premise in Pudu. Whether or not they continue their business for the long term will depend on the crowd the market pulls. It hasn't gone unnoticed that Pudu already has a thriving wet market within close proximity. Rentals for the new premise has increased ten folds so the first 3 months (concession given on rental) will determine the longevity of these business.
If you are still reading this (sorry, I know its a lengthy post), you probably wonder why despite the distance do I still do my weekend marketing at Imbi Market. Surely there is a wet market in Puchong and you are right, there is. Well, call me stupid but I genuinely have a loyalty towards each stall that I frequent. I find that they provide services far beyond what other markets provide. I can get all the fats and vein trimmed off any piece of meat I buy and yes I mean ALL the fats and veins (do you know of any other chicken stall that will de-vein a fillet for you? I don't!) regardless of how tedious it is. Even the fishmonger is willing to de-shell and clean the prawns upon request. I can tell them what I plan to cook and they will honestly advise me on the most suitable cut of meat and not try to maximise their profits from my purchase. I could go on expounding their virtues but I think you get my drift.
Well moving on to the food stalls, I must admit I have a weaker bond with them as over the years my palette has changed with age and the stalls I used to frequent when I was little aren't the same as the ones I choose today. Except for the popiah stall. Yes, the famous Sister's Crispy Popiah weren't so famous when I first tasted them but it was delicious then as it is now. My new found love is for the Ah Weng Koh Hainanese Tea which I only started drinking a couple of years back. Yes, I know they are probably the most iconic shop in the food section but hey, when I was a kid I drank Milo peng not Hainanese Tea. Lol. With that said, I was told by a friend (whose parents know the owners of Ah Weng Koh) that they were considering to cease business for good once Imbi Market is relocated. Their children have careers of their own and it is left to the old folks to continue running the place. It is not an easy job to start your day at 4am to setup and face the continuous onslaught of people and their orders/demands until mid afternoon. However during my own visit, I am told they would relocate and still continue serving up their traditional hainanese tea and kaya toast. Lucky us!
|The quintessential breakfast|
What I do know for sure is that Imbi Market is an icon in KL that is known and loved by all. So many write-ups have featured this place especially for its food. People from far and wide as come to visit and experience the unique charm and atmosphere it offers. It has definitely found a place deep in the hearts and memories of many; young and old.
My hopes are that people will always remember. Remember not just the food or the atmosphere but remember the people and faces behind the produce and food stalls... Remember the man yelling at you to get out of the way for him to deliver the drinks! :) Because if you do remember them, then the legacy continues beyond the soon-to-be-demolished brick walls of the Imbi Market.
I know I will... Always.