ISOscape project creator Jaslyn Ng shares some of her architecture/food illustrations dedicated to her late aunt, who prepared the ultimate comfort food from her hawker stall in Penang, Malaysia.

I came to Melbourne when I was 18 years old. Like many international students, I would fly home once a year. This eight-hour flight was always filled with joy and I always have a long to-do list when I visit home. One thing that I will never miss out on is a visit to my late aunt’s little hawker stall in Penang, Malaysia. She owned a little mobile cart that sells Fish and Chicken Porridge.[1. 鱼生鸡粥, Yee Sung Kai Chok (Fish & Chicken Porridge) located in Cintra Street, Georgetown Penang is one of the many nominated food destinations in Penang Global Tourism. Penang, Malaysia is known for its food paradise. Many mobile hawker stalls have been operating for generations as an attachment to a designated Kopitiam (coffee shop). My late aunt’s hawker stall has been operating for 40 years. Her children continue to carry on her legacy for generations to come. For more information, please visit their facebook page.]

This is my ultimate comfort food.

My late aunt’s little hawker stall attached to a Kopitiam (coffee shop) in 2013.

My late aunt’s hawker stall elevation in 2013.

The travel ban was the first defence tactic that was globally enforced as soon as the world realised COVID-19 is not a harmless flu. It will also be the last enforcement to be lifted, likely when a vaccine is produced. Until then, for public health’s sake, everyone needs to stay at home.

When the travel ban was first introduced, many were stranded in other countries. Within Australia, state borders started to close. Stage 4 Lockdown in Victoria only allows limited travel within a 5 km radius from home. I am sure that everyone has families and friends who live further than that distance and we are all worried sick for each other’s health and safety. 

My late aunt’s little hawker stall by the street in 2009.

My late aunt’s hawker stall section in 2009.

When I was a student 20 years ago, I always sought familiarity whenever I felt homesick. The closest thing that felt like home was my late aunt’s Fish and Chicken Porridge dish. I have tried and failed to cook this dish many times before successfully recreating the dish. It was hard to nail this dish, as my aunt never gave the exact measurements. ‘Agak-agak’ is the common phase that she used, which means just guesstimate. 


I am combining my love of architectural illustrations and comfort food to cheer me up during this difficult time. This dish always brings me home to a special place.


*ISOscape (short for isolation-scape) is the ever-changing new way of living, where social distancing is a necessity between individuals as a result of the current global pandemic of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The ISOscape project was created and curated by Jaslyn Ng, an architecture educator and experienced senior architect based in Melbourne, Australia. This project aims to address and respond to the impact of the current pandemic to individuals, families and greater communities. This is a series of open discussions created to challenge the ever-changing isolation requirements.