This is a tribute to the humble kopitiams, aka the city’s original cafés. Always the dependable option for a morning coffee, roti bakar and half boiled eggs, these old-school coffee shops have become an institution for their respective neighbourhoods. Here are our favourite kopitiams in and around the city, and our recommended dishes to order after you’ve had your breakfast eggs.
We’re glad to have a kopitiam like Win Heng Seng in the heart of the city. While the place has a pretty impressive array of food stalls, crowds throng here for pork noodles and egg tarts. Join the queue for the mini egg tarts from Tai Zi Ta: tiny, airy puffs of flaky pastry with eggy custard best eaten fresh from the oven.
Try: Egg tarts and pork noodles
The coffee shop – which serves drinks and its signature wantan mee – is located on the ground floor of a corner building that bustles with the comings and goings of patrons during the day, while the top floors house the kopitiam’s owner, Madam Yap, and the rest of her family. It was her grandfather, Yap Kee Chong, who founded the business in 1925.
Try: Wantan mee
Klang’s best bet for a cup of kopi, soft-boiled eggs and toast (lightly toasted over charcoal) with homemade kaya and butter, Chong Kok Kopitiam also sells excellent nasi lemak (try the ones in small packets or get a plate from the stall outside), butter cakes and kuih. Once a hotel and bar, the 76-year-old kopitiam now attracts retirees and tourists in equal measure. Come prepared to share tables with strangers.
Try: Kopi, soft-boiled eggs and wholemeal toast
Hotel Loke Ann and its dearly missed kopitiam has been gone for about three years but Uncle Lee who ran the kopitiam is back in business. The kopitiam is now located in Petaling Street near the Madras Lane wet market. If you have a hard time finding it, look for bright blue walls and you've arrived. Tables here are limited, and by limited we mean five. The roti bakar is toasted in a mini oven and slathered with just the right amount of butter and homemade kaya.
Operating daily from the break of dawn, O&S churns out some of the best local fare. Located in the vicinity of Taman Paramount, this kopitiam is home to many stalls selling Penang-style hawker fare, including prawn mee, curry laksa, char kuey teow and har gou chee cheong fun. The asam laksa – complemented with thick broth, generous chunks of mackerel, cucumber strips and a spoonful of sweet shrimp paste – is the star.
Come time for a kopi break, skip the tourist traps and head to a smaller site nestled on the crowded corner of Jalan Sultan: Yong Bee. Plus points for cultural diversity under one roof: It’s a Chinese kopitiam with a Malay nasi lemak stall which opens in the morning, before an Indian stall takes over from 11.45am, serving home-cooked Indian food until late afternoon.
Try: Nasi lemak
With a large sign in English that reads ‘Lai Foong Restaurant’ facing the road, you’ll find it hard to miss this decades-old coffee shop. Inside, the hawker-style restaurant consists of a cluster of stalls selling its signature beef noodles (the station is managed by the owner of the place himself), char kuey teow, Penang fried kuok teow and other Chinese favourites.
Yut Kee’s current lot is a residence-turned-shop on Jalan Kamunting, just around the corner from their old shop. And despite its bigger space, you’ll still need to share a table come mealtime; that’s a testament to Yut Kee’s unwaning popularity. Their signature chicken chop is slapped out with loads of brown sauce and fried potatoes, and don’t miss the equally popular hailam mee, roti babi and marble cake. The coffee, meanwhile, is sourced from a relative of the owner’s family, who roasts the beans darkly for a heady, bitter effect.
A time capsule that feeds both the hungry and the nostalgic, the café has witnessed the change of many generations. Order kopi peng and a plate of the best satay in the city. Take a #selfeet with the signature seahorse tiles in front of the entrance – we haven’t seen a similar motif in the city.