Ewe Paik Leong visits several old kopitiam for a cuppa and more
VALUE-FOR-MONEY and an old-world ambience. These are the hallmarks of the old-style kopitiam. But many are going the way of the dinosaurs, with the latest casualty being Sin Seng Nam on Medan Pasar, Kuala Lumpur. Go and enjoy authentic fare at surviving original kopitiam before they vanish from the capital.
1. Kedai Makanan Yut Kee, Jalan Dang Wangi
Old photographs, huge mirrors and round marble-topped tables make up the furnishings of Yut Kee, which exudes a feel of Old Malaya. Founded in 1928, it has managed to hold its own against modern chain kopitiam with its gravy-drenched chicken chop, belacan fried rice, Hailam mee, loh mee, French toast and thick, aromatic coffee.
The queue for an empty table is long during lunch but service is pretty quick.
Popular takeaways are the Swiss roll and home-made kaya. You’ll find Mervyn Lee, the founder’s grandson, at the counter, keeping tabs on orders and tables.
2. Kedai Kopi Lai Foong, Jalan Tun H.S. Lee
If you can tolerate the roar of the crossroad traffic and the hot stuffy atmosphere despite the overhead swirling fans, Lai Foong makes a great place for breakfast and lunch. Kick-start the morning with kaya-margarine toast, beef noodle, fried kway teow or sang har mee (prawn noodle).
The beef noodle stall has been operating since 1956, and add-ons are tendon, tripe and intestine. The soup emanates an olfactory-grabbing aroma and the beef balls are springy. The dry version is also available. Another must-try is the fluffy kaya pau with smooth fillings. For lunch, try chicken rice at the Hainanese chicken stall.
Kedai Kopi Lai Fong from Trip Advisor
3. Restoran Win Heng Seng, Jalan Imbi
Win Heng Seng is a one-stop centre for char kway teow, chee cheong fun, yong tau foo, Sarawak kolok mee and egg tarts. The cockles, bean sprouts, chives, egg and home-made kway teow are fried using a high-temperature wok that brings out their flavours.
The egg tarts are yummy because of the higher ratio of egg to flour in the custard and the higher ratio of custard to pastry. Win Heng Seng also serves an invigorating iced cham, a mix of coffee and tea. Its woody notes, buttery body and sweet aftertaste are guaranteed to perk you up.
Where can you get chap fun (a.k.a mixed rice) and Teow Chew porridge from 10am to midnight? Possibly, only in Restoran Venny.
For breakfast, there are also stalls that serve kway teow soup, char kway teow, loh mee, intestine noodles and prawn mee.
The selection of dishes to accompany the porridge is wide — braised intestine, brown tofu, white tofu, fish, veggies, stewed chicken feet, braised duck and salted eggs, amongst others.
5. Mei Sin Eating Shop, Jalan Melati
Mei Sin Eating Shop is always chaotic inside as throngs of people come to attack its kai si hor fun (shredded chicken noodles), prawn mee and kuih bakul. The kai si hor fun is a cut above because of the smooth rice noodles, obviously homemade, and succulent chicken. By itself, the prawn mee soup is flat but it transforms into a tongue-tingling brew when special sambal is added.
Kuih bakul is only available late morning. Each piece is sandwiched between a slice of potato and yam, dipped in batter and deep fried. The stall uses only a special clone of powdery yam.
[Pix copyright by Ewe Paik Leong]
One of the best fried kuih bakul stall in KL is in Mei Sin Eating Shop at Jalan Khoo Teik Eee, Off Jalan Imbi. A slice of kuih bakul is sandwiched between a slice of sweet potato and taro. After dipping the trio in batter, they are deep fried until the kuih bakul oozes out. The contrast of gooey and fluffy textures makes you feel your tongue is trekking through powdery sand and sticky mud!
6. Kedai Makanan Sun Sun, Jalan Merdeka, Ampang
Some first-timers come here unsure of what to order as apparently there are no stalls. Actually, there are four stalls located at the back. The must-eat here is the yin-yong bun which is as soft as a ball of cotton. The steamed bread slice, though equally soft, is a tad too small so only two sets will suffice for the average tummy. The curry mee stall and the yee mee stall are the most popular here
7. Restoran BBQ, Jalan Ipoh
Restoran BBQ’s best selling breakfast fare is wanton mee — both soup and dry version. No ordinary stuff. The egg noodles are springy and super-thin and obviously homemade. Braised chicken feet and sui kow are optional. The prawn in the sui kow tastes so fresh that it tingles the taste buds.
In the afternoon, a variety of barbecued meats are served with rice. Apart from regular coffee, Restoran BBQ serves exceptional white coffee — rich and smooth-bodied with a nutty aftertaste.
Restoran BBQ, Jalan Ipoh
8. Restoran Zhing Khong, Jalan Hang Kasturi
Zhing Khong’s forte is its loh mai kai (steamed chicken glutinous rice) and an assortment of pau (steamed bun) such as kaya pau, lotus-seed pau, sweet corn pau, vegetable pau, char siew pau and khaw yoke pau. The loh mai kai — the chef-d’oeuvre in the steamer — is sold out quickly. The glutinous rice is well-balanced — steamed at the correct temperature, not too soft or too oily.
Breakfast staples such as toast, kopi-o and half-boiled eggs draw a loyal clientele of retirees. Also available are curry mee, beef noodles and chee cheong fun.
Restoran Zhing Khong
9. Restoran Hing Ang, Jalan Thambipillay
Hing Ang’s speciality is a beverage stall that offers white coffee, three-layered coffee, Nes-kopi, Nes-lo and, of course, the regular coffee and tea.
The Nes-kopi is heavy-bodied with a subdued chocolatey aroma. Three-layered tea can be slurped layer by layer — the bottom layer is gula Melaka, then topped with evaporated milk and capped with tea — mixing the three ingredients produces a beverage of complex flavours.
A stall serves various breakfast sets such as egg and ham, egg and sausage, egg and bacon and heavier offerings such as chicken chop and lamb chop.