Pak Abu’s famous ‘Putu Mayam’ continues to delight locals

Abu Bakar Rajab, fondly known as Pak Abu, holds up a serving of his famous 'Pak Abu Putu Mayung'.

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, July 4: ‘Putu Mayam,’ also known as string hoppers, is a beloved South-Indian snack consisting of soft, spongy rice noodles.

This delectable treat, often served with desiccated coconut and sugar or as a savory dish with curry, stew, or chutney, has a special place in the hearts of Kuching residents.


In Kuching, one of the most sought-after makers of this snack is the renowned street vendor Abu Bakar Rajab, better known as Pak Abu.

Every local who knows of this delicacy would surely recommend Pak Abu’s version, fondly referred to as ‘Pak Abu Putu Mayung’.

The friendly 65-year-old Pak Abu, easily recognised by his signature red Turkish hat, has been a street vendor for 35 years, dedicating the last 20 years to selling Indian snacks full-time after retiring from his civil service job.

Originally from Penang, Pak Abu moved to Sarawak, married a local from Kampung Gersik, and made Kuching his home.

“I have been a street vendor since my school days,” Pak Abu shared with DayakDaily at his popular spot in the vicinity of the Indian Street Pedestrian Mall.

“My father was very business-minded and encouraged me to be independent. In those days in Penang, I used to buy wholesale vegetables and sell them in residential areas.”

Pak Abu started selling his version of ‘Putu Mayung’ while working with the Police Brigade Department at Siol Kandis in Petra Jaya during the 1980s.

“There was an Indian man named Manan selling it back then, and after he stopped, I started. When I was off duty, I sold the snack around the area and even at India Street.”

It’s in his blood to be an entrepreneur, and Pak Abu has instilled this trait in his children and young people he meets.

His wife initially mastered the family recipe, which has now been passed down to their children.

Pak Abu’s version of ‘Putu Mayam’ includes pandan leaves, giving the snack its green color and aromatic flavor, best enjoyed with young desiccated coconut and brown sugar.

Pak Abu’s distinctive red Turkish hat not only makes him stand out in the bustling India Street but also symbolises his Muslim faith and spirituality.

His snacks have become synonymous with his street name, ‘Pak Abu,’ which he modestly accepted as he grew older.

Fluent in multiple languages, including English, Chinese, Indian, and local dialects, Pak Abu’s ability to communicate effectively gives him an edge in his business.

“We must treat people from all walks of life as friends and family. I greet people daily, even if they don’t buy from me. This approach helps our business grow.”

Pak Abu’s snacks are available not only from his mobile container at India Street but also at several ‘Pak Abu Putu Mayung’ outlets in the city.

Despite suggestions to retire, Pak Abu enjoys staying active and meeting people, leaving the business outlets to his children.

For those craving ‘Pak Abu Putu Mayung’, both the snack and Pak Abu can be found at the entrance of The India Street Pedestrian Mall near the Old Court House daily from 11:30 am. For more information, call 011 2750 6534. — DayakDaily