It is common knowledge that the making of yau char kwai is a gruelling task
Not only does one have to knead a large amount of dough with strength, but the person also has to stand in front of a fiery wok for a long period of time just to fry the dough until it turns golden brown.
That is why when a netizen shared that an elderly man in Melaka is selling yau char kwai six days a week at the age of 75, the post quickly went viral and garnered sympathy from fellow Malaysians
Sharing the senior citizen's predicament on Facebook on 3 June, netizen Allycia Soh posted a video showing the old man waving his hands to ask passers-by to support his business while frying yau char kwai.
"The most chilling thing is that sometimes the elderly man sells it for the whole afternoon and only makes RM5. He couldn't even make back the cost," Soh wrote in the caption.
"The business is very bleak during MCO (Movement Control Order). Not only is he not making money, but he also loses money for running the business."
In the video, the elderly man can be heard telling Soh that he "does not even have salary" and that "it's extremely difficult to sell (yau char kwai) these days".
He also says he cannot finish selling the fried goods every day. Soh said the elderly man had to throw away the fresh ingredients because of poor business.
The elderly man also — like many uncle vendors we meet in real life — boasts to Soh how well his yau char kwai is fried.
He knocks one of them on the oil draining tray, causing it to break in two just to show how crispy and tender it is.
"The uncle said every piece of yau char kwai is made with care. He controls the fire well and the dough is very well mixed," added Soh
"(Does the yau char kwai) look good?" asks the elderly man after explaining the importance of the heat that the wok receives to Soh and other customers at the premises.
Soh answers that the yau char kwai looks pretty, while later on she writes in the caption that she can see the elderly man puts a lot of love into every yau char kwai he fries.
She said the elderly man used to sell mangoes by the roadsides. However, after he moved to the area in Melaka, many of his old customers were unaware.
"On top of that, due to the pandemic, business is even harder for him. Just to make enough money to eat and survive is already a challenge," she said.
She also heard a vendor next to the elderly man's stall saying that he always pants for air while kneading the dough.
Speaking to SAYS, Soh said that after her post went viral with over 44,000 shares, she visited the elderly man's stall again and found that his business has gotten better
"He can sell up to 100 pieces a day at most. After deducting the rent, he only earns a small amount that is enough to cover his living expenses," Soh told this SAYS writer.
"He goes to the stall at 10am to start kneading the dough. When he is done closing the stall, it is already 5pm. It is tiring for him."
She urged netizens to support the elderly man's business, saying each yau char kwai is priced only at RM1.
He used to sell red bean paste doughnuts as well, but due to poor business, he decided to only sell one item to avoid wastage.
Soh said the elderly man's stall is located inside a kopitiam in Malim Jaya, the central Melaka district, behind a Caltex petrol station and a Starbucks outlet.
"A lot of the stalls in the kopitiam are closed, so maybe you can't find him. But actually, the uncle is selling in there," she noted.
He starts selling yau char kwai at 2pm until it runs out and rests every Wednesday.
At the time of writing, Soh's post has garnered almost 10,000 likes and 2,000 comments
In the comment section, Soh dismissed many comments that claimed that the elderly man does not change his cooking oil used to fry the yau char kwai.
"The wok is heated for a long period time, (that is why) the bottom of the wok turned black, so the oil will also look darker. Uncle said that it can't be brushed off even though he tried to brush it many times. Hope you all understand," she said.
Meanwhile, thousands of netizens lauded the elderly man for his diligence while urging people in Melaka to support his business.
"People passing by, please stop and buy. It can not only help uncle but also fill your own stomach, why not do it?" said a Facebook user, while another added, "You are great, pretty! Thank you for sharing. I hope uncle's yau char kwai can be sold out every day."
"Are there any friends in Melaka who can help buy something (from the uncle) and send it to the nearby orphanage? I can transfer money to you," commented a netizen.
In October last year, a single father selling yau char kwai just to make ends meet went viral as well: