Recently a Malaysian influencer went viral on Twitter for saying that she prefers not to date Malaysian men, because they tend to take girls to the mamak on the first date.
“Mostly Malaysians, they like bringing me to mamak stalls which I don’t like. Sorry, not being picky but I don’t work hard just to hang out at mamak stalls,” she says in the video.
We asked Malaysians what they think and how acceptable is it to take a girl to the mamak for the first date:
1. Set low expectations first, then raise them later
“I had a friend who kept taking girls out for very expensive first dates. Unfortunately, that had the effect of setting the expectations very high.” Irene shared.
It’s the same principle with over-promising and under-delivering on work projects: you always have to top that first impression.
“So I suggested he should try bringing a girl to the mamak on the first date. It’s a good way to gauge how she’d take it,” said Irene serenely.
Doing this keeps expectations low at the start. It gives you the opportunity to impress her later when you take it to the next level.
“Of course, warn her that you wanna do something a bit different lah,” Irene cautioned. “And perhaps mention that not ALL future dates will just be at the mamak.”
Irene often goes on backpacking trips abroad with her boyfriend on a shoestring budget, so she is comfortable with eating anywhere. That said, she does yearn for mamak food.
“I had to beg my boyfriend for a hawker stall / local food stall date. There’s only so much western food I can take before my taste-buds start to atrophy a little,” she confided.
Alice, a restaurateur, says that whenever a guy tries to dazzle her on the very first date, his level of effort will go down over the course of the next few dates.
This often has the disappointing outcome of ending with a sizzle rather than a bang.
“I think it’s nice when I get taken for a fine dining on the first date, but I feel like it’s too try-hard,” she explains.
Try-hard is when someone, basically, tries too hard. It’s better to be secure in yourself and for your expectations for the date to be reasonable.
2. Wine and dine her to win her heart
Some guys, ever the gentlemen, prefer to show the girl a good time, whether it be at a swanky bar, or at a 5-star restaurant.
“I was looking at this tweet with my partner this morning and he was adamant too that you should never bring a girl out on a first date to the mamak,” said Denise.
On the man’s part, there is the fear that he will be perceived as ‘stingy’ or ‘cheap’ by his date.
The more traditional men would prefer to wine and dine their dates, in a show of financial might or stability.
“That’s unless you’ve been dating for a while. It’s about first impressions.” Denise says.
There’s a huge difference between the first date and going on a date when you’re already invested for the long term.
3. Is she a status chaser or a humble gal? Let the mamak date decide!
“But of course the way this ‘influencer’ put it, like going to the mamak is a bad thing, it kinda sets a tone that she’s the ‘atas’ type.” Denise said.
Yeah, there is a certain snobbishness in refusing to eat at the humble mamak. After all, what is the point of being with someone if you can’t enjoy the simple pleasures in life together?
Twitter user @Abangdonuts has this to say: “Agong pun humble lepak makan mamak dia ni stakat just a normal person pn dah berlagak.”
(“Even the Agong himself is humble enough to eat and chill at the mamak, while a normal person like her is somehow “too good” for that.”)
Dates aren’t always about the status of your meals, but the human connection between two souls.
For example, one guy proposed to his longtime girlfriend in a KFC – and while some people on the internet looked down on him, he got the last laugh when over 20 brands offered to sponsor the lovebirds: from jewelry, wedding dresses, transportation, food, and even their honeymoon!
“I know women who’d say ‘yes, let’s go mamak’ for date number one, but I also know women who’d say ‘hell no!’ Hahaha. So it depends on the girl really,” mused Denise.
Clement says, “My girlfriend now is very thrifty, more so than I am. She always asks me not to bring her to super expensive places. It doesn’t matter where we go as long as the food is good. Bless her soul, she’s such an angel!”
4. Mamak lets you bond over shared food
When you’re at a fine dining restaurant, you’ll usually have to put on your best behaviour. It’s difficult to get to know the other person when you’re focused on figuring out which salad fork to use.
But the mamak sets a very chill, comfortable vibe. Literally everyone has been to a mamak, and everyone can relax. You are more likely to open up in a relaxed setting like that, where the stakes are not so high.
“As a guy, I say it’s fair to say that it goes easy on our wallets. It could be those hawker stalls too because they serve some pretty good food. And you can order lots of different food to share,” Clement offered by way of explanation.
Food, especially mamak food, is the social glue that binds Malaysians of all races and creeds together. It makes sense to start a date off on a common experience of Malaysian culture.
“I feel the whole sharing thing to be sweet, although truth is, not all women like dates like these,” he admits good-naturedly.
Its true that some women care not about sharing food, but about the ambiance, music, lighting, and privacy.
For some, it’s easier to cosy up to each other when you’re sitting in a private booth, away from judgmental eyes.
At the end of the day, do your research!
“Yes, the first date is about making a good first impression. But to make that good first impression, you need to research your date’s likes and dislikes,” Adam pointed out, sensibly.
Adam’s girlfriend is a pastry chef, so she’s used to crafting classy culinary creations at her day job. Taking her to a fine-dining restaurant, he says, would only bring out the angry food critic in her.
“Is she a fan of mamak, or does she hate it? Knowing what your date’s tastes are (pun intended) is what makes a good impression.”
And there you have it folks.
If the girl you chose finds going to the mamak distasteful, maybe your budget and her expectations just do not match.
And that’s perfectly fine.
Better to find out on the first date rather than suffer in silence, right?
At the end of the day, dating is meant to be fun and nothing too serious. So go out there and ask a girl to a mamak first date – see what she says!
What do you think? Should you take a girl out to the mamak on the first date? Let us know in the comments!
For more stories on first dates, read 4 Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make on the First Date, According to Malaysian Girls and 4 Practical Tips for Planning a First Date in Malaysia.