Ma Mon Luk
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|Ma Mon Luk
Guangdong, Qing Dynasty
|Died||1961 (aged 64–65)
Cause of death
|Known for||establishing the popular Chinese restaurant that bears his name, Ma Mon Luk, as well as the innovator of "mami" and "siopao" in the Philippines|
Born in Guangdong, China, he was a grade school teacher in Guangzhou when he decided to emigrate to the Philippines in 1918. According to legend, he migrated to the Philippines in order to earn his fortune and win the hand of a girl whose wealthy Cantonese family looked none too kindly on his poverty. Arriving penniless in Manila, Ma Mon Luk decided to peddle chicken noodle soup, utilizing egg noodles. He soon became a familiar sight on the streets of Manila, plodding down with a long bamboo pole slung on his shoulders with two metal containers on each end. One vat contained his especially concocted noodles and strips of chicken meat, while the other stored chicken broth heated by live coals underneath. With a pair of scissors, he would cut the noodles and meat to serve to his customers. Among his frequent customers were students from the various schools and universities in Manila, whom he would regale with tales about China. Ma Mon Luk himself called his concoction "gupit", after the Tagalog word for "cut with scissors".
Ma Mon Luk soon opened his first restaurant in Binondo, where he introduced his equally famous siopao, a steamed pork dumpling enhanced by a secret sauce. Ma Mon Luk nonetheless continued to peddle his wares on the streets, advertising his restaurant by giving away free samples. By the 1950s, Ma Mon Luk and his mami were nationally known, and Ma Mon Luk became the iconic Chinese restaurant, sprouting many imitators who failed to equal its success. At one point, in the mid 1990s, there were at least six Ma Mon Luk restaurants in Metro Manila, but as of 2006, only the branches in Quezon Avenue, Q.C. and Quezon Boulevard in Quiapo, Mla. remain open.