Yut Kee, legendary kopitiam and one of KL’s busiest breakfast spots, is to move out of its Jalan Dang Wangi premise in early June to a nearby lot formerly allocated to The Bodhi Tree along Jalan Kamunting. The 86-year-old Hainanese coffee shop is one of KL’s last-standing traditional kopitiams, complete with decaying walls, yellowed newspaper cuttings and patches of charming mosaic floor tiles.
Mervyn Lee, grandson of Yut Kee and current manager of the shop, says the move is propelled by the high cost of ownership. ‘The cost of ownership is almost double the price of the property,’ he says. The landlord of the shop was forced to succumb to these rising costs after the price of ownership outweighed the rent they were charging. The financial weight soon bore too big a burden, compelling Mervyn to seek out a new location. ‘No one could meet the price, it was a ridiculous price,’ he laments.
Mervyn promises to retain the shop’s sepia-tinged old-world charm in the new, renovated location but adds that modern flourishes are difficult to avoid. ‘Some old visual cues will remain like the floor tiles and high ceilings but some things have to be modern,’ he adds. However, Yut Kee’s signature exposed wiring will be a no-show at the new premise due to a newly introduced ban. While a piece of heritage (yet again) gets torn down in the name of progress, rest assured Yut Kee’s famous Hainanese chops, roti babi and marble cake are permanent fixtures on the menu.
Eat at the original Yut Kee for what may be the last time.