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Aug 16, 2013 08:36 PM

Kuala Lumpur - BEST Hainanese Kaya Toast in KL!

This absolutely, bloody popular spot is literally *full* of customers daily from 6.30am in the morning - a tiny, dingy hole-in-the-wall, perched on the side of a wet market, with small tables (which one often has to share with complete strangers) and little metal stools. How insane is that?!

But then, it offers an insight into, and taste of, a traditional Malaysian/Singaporean breakfast, a la Hainanese-style: kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs and Hainanese coffee.

What we tried this morning:

- Soft-boiled egg: instead of being served the cooked eggs, one gets a large metal mug containing two eggs submerged in hot water, with a bowl serving as the lid. One personally decides how long the eggs should be cooked. I left mine in there for 10 minutes, before cracking the contents into the bowl that served as the lid earlier. The eggs, sprinkled with light soysauce and a shake of white pepper, was *perfect*.

- Kaya toast: the "kaya" (coconut jam) here was one of the best I'd ever had, and I simply *loved* the way a thick slice of cold butter is sandwiched between the kaya-smeared toast. That's the way we often have it in Singapore (Ya Kun, Killiney Road, Chin Mee Chin, etc.) but which I'm hard-pressed to find in KL. Over here at Ah Weng, the thinly-cut bread was perfectly toasted till light and crisp. Together with the kaya and bread, it was the *perfect kaya toast*, if ever there was one.

- Hainanese coffee: no one does local Malaysian/Singaporean coffee the way the Hainanese do - thick, aromatic and slightly sweetened, Ah Weng's rendition was as smooth and beautiful as any I'd tasted anywhere else. For any better in this region, one needs to go to one of those legendary kopitiams in Ipoh (Sin Yoon Long, or Nam Heong). Its Hainanese tea is apparently as popular, so I may need to come back here for that soon.

After this morning, I'm beginning to understand why people were jostling for shared tables at 6.30am each morning here. It *is* that good, and offers a local KL experience like no other.

Address details
Ah Weng Koh Hainan Tea
Pasar Baru Bukit Bintang
Jalan Melati
55100 Kuala Lumpur

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  1. If you have to share a table with a complete stranger, go ahead and introduce yourself, so that they are no longer a stranger.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Tripeler

      We did :-D

      See the first pic where you can catch the partial images of two persons sitting across from us? They did not know us, nor each other! After 5 minutes, we were chatting away with each other about kaya toast and coffee places in KL, Singapore, Johore, Ipoh, Penang, etc. One of the chaps is a regular at this spot, and comes here almost daily as his office is a short hop away.

    2. Back at Ah Wneg Koh last weekend - I simply couldn't comprehend the fact that the whole food court was packed when we arrived at the crack of dawn there - KL-lites must really have a early start to their day. Then, I found out from my KL friends that most KL folks would wake up at 5am - just to come here and procure a table!

      BTW, I also got to try the famous Sister's Crispy Popiah this time round. The very popular stall has been featured on numerous local & regional TV food programs. Besides it's unique "crispy" filling - I think the woman-chef added deep-fried flour crumbs to the usual cooked jicama-carrot-meat filling for the added crunch. The condiments used: hoi sin sauce and chilli sauce were relatively mild, not like the in-your-face raw garlic paste we also add in Singapore. The soft-skinned popiah was served dry (nice!), unlike the soggy, gravy-drenched version from Penang.

      The stall was positioned between two other very popular stalls - a "yong tau foo" stall with a queue that snaked through half the length of the open-air portion of the foodcourt, and a nasi lemak stall which is famous for its curried pork-skin, among other side-dishes offered. I'd *love* to try curried pork-skin, but don't think I can manage that at 6am-ish in the morning!

      19 Replies
      1. re: klyeoh

        i like the sound of that, crispy bits in popiah! i was a bit disappointed by the popiah i had at shin yeh in taipei partially because they were kind of soggy (the one dish i was ho hum about there)

        all the good you're talking about in this post are favorites of mine. luckily homemade kaya is actually very easy to get in NY, many of the malay restaurants sell it. i always have it in my apartment and i always eat it with cold butter just the way you show in your post!

        1. re: Lau

          I had very good popiah in Taipei at a night market near the Taiwan Normal University (師大夜市) - interestingly, the crispy bits in there were actually crushed sweet peanut brittle (like the sort pictured here). I'd *never* had sweet-savoury popiah in all my life here, so it was a defining moment. Having a sweet tooth, I quite took to it, but my Singaporean colleague who was with me couldn't stomach it. We later hit a very famous "oh-wah mee-sua" (oyster rice vermicelli) spot there.

          1. re: klyeoh

            ahh i love the sweet peanut brittle, i just had a good one at tong hua night market. in fact they use a popiah skin put three different types of ice cream scoops, cilantro and then shave the peanut brittle on it. sounds super weird, but it was really good. i'm going to write about it

            o ah mee sua is a fav street dish of mine. i love it with some good chili paste, minced garlic and intestines...thats the best combo for me

            1. re: Lau

              Yup, we had the minced garlic and intestines with our oyster noodles as well :-D

              I'll look forward to your write-up on the sweet version of the popiah.

              The savoury-sweet one we had actually contained the "usual" jicama-pork-crumbled egg-sausage filling, *plus* the sweet peanut brittle, and spiked with a raw minced garlic paste strong enough to induce spontaneous combustion in a vampire.

              1. re: klyeoh

                this is definitely just more of a dessert popiah except they happen to throw cilantro into it (very taiwanese as everything has cilantro in it in taiwan haha)

                1. re: Lau

                  I like cilantro, too - but my Korean colleagues in Seoul could not take even a pinch of it (usually served in Vietnamese restaurants there as an optional condiment). Funny, since the Koreans seem to love sesame leaves (perilla) in all their wraps - I'd always thought the dull, assertive scent of perilla was overwhelming.

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    actually i read some article and apparently whether you like cilantro or not has something to do with the way your brain is wired, it really is a love or hate thing. Everyone i know literally loves or hates cilatro (i happen to love it)

                    1. re: Lau

                      So, culturally, the Koreans seemed to be conditioned to "accept" the heavy scent of sesame leaves but *not* cilantro :-D

                      It's like the Chinese, Indians and Filipinos liking bitterness in their food, e.g. bittergourd, etc. which Western palates will never accept.

                      1. re: klyeoh

                        no its very specific to cilantro, there was something chemically about cilantro where people's taste buds tended to either really like or completely hate cilantro (i.e. it has something to do with your brain). i'm sure food culture definitely influences people's taste like all food, but there was something more specific about cilantro

                        1. re: Lau

                          A bit like durian then - you either love it or hate it. I absobloodylutely LOVE it!

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            same here i love durian so much...i wish they had fresh ones here. they're all frozen, its funny bc they advertise them as mao shan wang in NY if you read the chinese signs, i wonder how many if any are actually mao shan wang (the transportation and freezing of the durians totally kills their fragrance, you can barely smell them!)

                            1. re: Lau

                              I had the impression that most durians you find in the US are actually Thai ones (Monthong, Charnee, Karnyao), and not Malaysian ones like Mao Shan Wang :-D

                              1. re: klyeoh

                                yah my guess is that alot of them are thai, but alot of the fruit vendors in chinatown advertise that they are mao shan wang, but my guess is alot of that is fake and i think very few people here are sophisticated enough to spot a fake

                        2. re: klyeoh

                          My wife and I have an absolute passion for bittergourd. We are both 100% Western. When I had a really fancy banquet in Beijing in my honour after a concert (I am a concert pianist, hence my obsession with Asian food), I asked that it be built around 苦瓜.

                          1. re: swannee

                            i dont find bittergourd to be quite as divisive. it clearly has a distinct flavor and some people obviously don't like it, but if its cooked well i find a good amount of people who didn't grow up eating it are at least ok with it even if they really don't like it. my dad loved it and im fine it although im not crazy about it

                            with cilantro i find i tend to get the reaction of either "omg i love cilantro" or "eww that stuff is disgusting, how the hell do u eat that?" haha

                            1. re: swannee

                              I'm very impressed, swannee - not just by the fact that you're a concert pianist who'd performed in Beijing, but that you and your wife also actually liked bittergourd!

                              I have great difficulty in getting my own Aussie and British relatives to even take a tiny bite from a bittergourd dish. Sometimes, I think it may be "cultural" - for example, our family have a large Thai branch (my maternal grandparents were Thai-Chinese from Bangkok) - it's virtually *impossible* to get any of my Thai relatives (or friends and office coleagues) to eat Indian. Somehow, Indian cuisine is not agreeable to the Thais.

                              1. re: klyeoh

                                really? i figured thai people might like indian food

                                i think thai food had to be the most popular food after indian food when i visited india it was pretty much the only other food i saw except some indian style chinese places

                                1. re: Lau

                                  Heh-heh, try getting any Thai friends you have to go to an Indian restaurant - just see their reaction.

                                  But it's different the other way round - Indians seem to adore Thai. But their fave non-Indian food is still Desi-Chinese (i.e. Gobi Manchurian, Hakka Noodles, etc.) which you are hard-pressed to find outside India and the little Indian enclaves around the world.

                                  The best Thai restaurant in India is Thai Pavilion in Mumbai's Vivanta by Taj. It was conceptualised by one of my Indian food heroes, Ananda Solomon:

                                  1. re: klyeoh

                                    yah there are many indian chinese restaurants in NY actually although my college roommate from mumbai says they pale in comparison to the real deal in india

                                    ahh cool, i spent like ~3 weeks in mumbai

          2. Had a glass of their trademark "Hainan Tea" - very interesting: it's actually a mix of coffee and tea, very deep, mellow flavours - perfect pick-me-up.