Once you are seated, ask for their signature breakfast set, which includes their Hainanese tea, two half boiled eggs and two pieces of roti kahwin. You might hear some customers ordering Hainanese ‘tea’ while others order Hainanese ‘coffee’ – it is actually the same beverage. Ah Weng Koh’s version of the classic kopitiam coffee is a blend of coffee and tea with milk, what is known as ‘cham’ at other more commercial franchise coffee shops. What sets theirs apart from the rest is the smooth, velvety taste that begins with the first sip and lasts till the last drop. It’s still a closely held secret how they manage to get a healthy froth on the top of each cup without any fancy teh tarik antics.
Next come the eggs, which is the fun part. Unlike other kopitiams, where they bring you the half-boiled eggs ready to be cracked and eaten, Ah Weng Koh believes in a bit of self-service. The eggs come in a large aluminium mug filled with hot water and neatly covered by a pair of bowls sporting the unmistakable red-and-black cockerel motif. It’s up to you to estimate how long it takes for the eggs to be ready: too quick and the eggs may be too raw; too long and they might end up overcooked. (Here’s a helpful tip: Five minutes usually do the trick for me.)
Their famous roti kahwin is actually two pieces of freshly toasted buns smeared generously with fragrant homemade kaya and thick slabs of rich SCS butter. The buns are always fluffy due to the amount of brisk business they do, with a perfect crispy crust that begs to be bitten into. Therein lies the challenge: waiting for the half-boiled eggs to be ready so that you may dunk the roti kahwin into a creamy, yolky soup (carefully seasoned with just the right amount of soy sauce and white pepper, of course).
It’s an exquisite sort of pain, the five minutes you must endure to dip and then devour. Judging by the looks of bliss on the faces at the tables around us, I’d advise you to wait.