- Dapur Mekwa wants to popularise dine-sharing in Malaysia where guests come over to your place and have a home cooked meal together, supper club style.
- They offer a four-course meal which is built around traditional Kelantanese recipes, with each dish accompanied by unique stories of their own.
The concept of ride-sharing is not new in Malaysia with so many players in the industry such as Grab, MyCar, and many more.
However, there is another concept of sharing which is less explored which involves food: dine-sharing.
If you’re not familiar with this concept, it has the same idea as a Supper Club.
Dictionary Time: A supper club is a traditional dining establishment that also functions as a social club. In general, supper clubs tend to present themselves as having a high-class image, even if the price is affordable to all.
In the words of Dapur Mekwa‘s co-founder Hisham, “Our guests come over to our place and share a home-cooked meal together, where everyone would chip in for the meal and the host would help cook.”
“Our dinner table is akin to the social network where people can interact with one another, contrary to a restaurant where all you would try to do is not to interact with people you don’t know. ”
Sharing A Meal
The onset of ridesharing culture that has taken the world by storm over the past few years has given Hisham Saleh the idea to do what he loves best.
It started when he realised how his dining table has always been a ‘dumping’ ground for work & other stuff. He figured that the only time that the dining table is really put to use is when friends or guests come over for dinner.
“Why not open up the dinner table for dinesharing, and invite people over to share the meal? At the very least, the dining table stays clean and put to its original purpose to bring people together over food,” Hisham questioned.
Dapur Mekwa has always existed in the home of Hisham, he is fondly known by his friends as “Wawa”. In Kelantan, you would call a lady “Mek” and traditionally, one would associate the kitchen to a lady.
Hisham’s friends always enjoyed his cooking and when they miss his cooking, they would jokingly say, ”Dah lamalah, tak makan dekat Dapur Mek Wa” (It has been a while since we ate at Lady Wa’s Kitchen).
That was how Dapur Mekwa was born even though it was never their intention to open a Supper Club in the first place.
“To us, Dapur Mekwa is more than the food on the dinner table. “
A Spin On Supper Clubs
Hisham does all the cooking and CJ would handle the logistics, the overall setup, as well as cleaning before and after. Their backgrounds complement each other, as Hisham sets the creative direction with CJ focusing on everything else.
Although Hisham spends a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, Dapur Mekwa is only open on the weekends. During the weekdays, Hisham has a full-time job as the Director of Marketing for an Education brand.
Hisham specialises in Kelantanese food as his mum has always been his source of inspiration.
He grew up in a small village in Kelantan and has many fond memories watching his mum glide through her kitchen, adept in combining many different yet simple ingredients to create her dishes, and was always fascinated with how her food would bring his big family and guests together.
On the other hand, his father was always telling stories of yore to him when he was a kid(most people called him Tok Selampit). This is now a significant part of the Dapur Mekwa experience.
He sees the dinner as a theatre production where the dining table is the stage for Hisham to tell stories of yore while sharing a meal with his guests.
This concept came to him after visiting supper clubs in London and Milan, where CJ and Hisham found most of them focusing solely on food. They, on the other hand, wanted to make their concept different.
“We decided not to be that, and as a Malaysian, we are so rich with heritage besides food. So, we incorporated storytelling as part of the dinner where we focus on the story behind the dishes,” Hisham said.
Keeping It Simple
For guests who feel it might be weird to go to a stranger’s house and have a meal with other strangers, Dapur Mekwa takes pride in making guests feel at home.
“It is not easy to break the ice especially with guests coming from a very diverse background. Sometimes, the guests may feel awkward, at least at the beginning when they arrive.”
“We have our own cue cards and script as conversation starters. Be it sports, travel tips, movies and sometimes our colourful politics,” CJ added.
“We do not want to become a restaurant because we think it will lose its charm,” explains CJ when asked if they plan to expand.
Dapur Mekwa will always be Hisham’s kitchen to his guests. But, he hopes that whatever he is doing now will inspire others to start a ‘dinesharing’ culture in Malaysia.
- To find out more about Dapur Mekwa and what kind of delicious delicacies they are cooking, click here.