Sunday, November 1, 2009
Killiney Kopi Tiam: not just for coffee and toast
Killiney Kopi Tiam is an old, old name in the coffee scene in Singapore. Started in 1919 at Killiney Road, the shop has been going strong...with hordes of loyal supporters. As far as I can remember, in the early days, they served only coffee and other beverages, and bread...toasted, or untoasted with butter and classic kaya. I used to have a favourite waiter...a stocky old gentleman, with very bushy eyebrows, and a powerful tenor vocal...would holler my order to the Hainanese Akor in the kitchen slaving over the coffee and toast. "Chio no leh kiap, bo chio no leh kiap, chio nooi, kopi, teh."...meaning toasted two slices folded (two slices of bread, toasted, with butter and kaya sandwiched in between), non toasted two slices folded, toasted egg (French Toast), coffee, tea. He would saunter over to our table for small chat when he is free...and interestingly, he spoke excellent English. But alas, he has passed on...eventually, the owners sold the coffee shop to a trader...who was a loyal customer and passionate about the shop and its history. The new owner kept the shop more or less the same...and expanded the network via franchises and owned shops.
I found the standard and quality of the offerings amongst the different Killiney's different. Here is one area where Ya Kun, whom I see as the main competitor is superior: quality control. Except for the mother shop in China Square which is noticibly better, the others maintain a high standard. Kiliney and its various branches are more erratic. The mothership at Killiney Road is superb, as ever. And the outlet at Siglap is supposed to be quite good (haven't been there for a long time), as is the outlet in Millinea Walk, which is the subject of this review. The others are touch and go...caveat emptor.
The Millinea Walk outlet perhaps have a full kitchen...able to dish out almost a full menu. We started with Penang Char Kway Teow as an appetizer:
This was a bit disappointing...no wok hei, little flavour. The version served up at Killiney at Sim Lim Square is better, as is the one from Amoy Street. Here the noodles were pale, almost flavourless. They were not bad tasting...just lacking.
Next the curry chicken:
Served with either lightly toasted baguette, or rice...we had two orders...one with each kind of starch...
The curry was very nice...super rich with coconut milk, and with a hint of lemongrass...it tasted very good. If I had one complaint, was that it was not hot enough...kind of reminded me of a very rich tasting chicken curry served in a small, high end Japanese coffee shop in Lucky Plaza (alas now also closed, but was the first place to serve gourmet pure coffee in Singapore...long before what is now considered the pioneer Coffee Club's first outlet at Jalan Mambong).
The chicken had obviously spent a long time simmering along in the curry...it was truly fall off the bone super tender, and flavourful. Shiok.
We also had the fish and chips:
Dory was breaded, and perfectly fried to a crisp. The batter was light, and very crispy, very tasty. There were no remnant taste of oil...indicating a fresh, light oil was used in deep frying.
The fish itself seemed fresh...perhaps an oxymoron, as Dory is typically deep frozen...but it did taste fresh, and hints of the sea. The meat was perfectly cooked, light, creamy (extremely) and flakey. Excellent dish.
Of course the coffee was nice Hainanese Akor kopi...slightly aromatic, rich...both in itself and from the condensed milk used to sweeten it, and with great body. It lacked the licourice mouthfeel typical of a good espresso, and was mild in comparison. But not atypical of local robusta sourced kopi.
Killiney Kopitiam Millenia Walk
#01-93/94 Millenia Walk
9 Raffles Boulevard
Mon to Fri - 7.30am to 8pm
Sat , Sun & PH- 8.30am to 7pm