The Kopitiam Culture

“Kopi O Kosong”

That is how to order a cup of hot black coffee without sugar or cream. I used to say it wrong. I missed the word “kosong”. The one that is served for me was then a black coffee with sugar.

For me, the Malay-style kopitiam has always been interesting. It always seems that people gather here every morning for a chat, while having breakfast and sipping a cup of coffee. Because of this, Malay-style kopitiam has always been full of chatter.

The Kopitiam Style
Typical Kopitiam Set Up at most Malaysian Kopi Tiam

This is especially true over the weekend. On Saturday morning, we went to 77 Food Yard at Pulau Tikus Market. From the name, I guess that at night, this place transformed into a restaurant. But in the morning, 77 Food Yard change into kopitiam.

It is so hard to find a table for four of us that Saturday morning. In fact, there are another kopitiam right across 77 Food Yard. Yet, both are full house. On weekend, after a long walk through the market for their daily needs, people would take a seat and having breakfast. Without the morning rush to office, people will usually spend more time with family and friends.

We did eventually find a nice place outside. The outdoor area has always been my favorite. And this morning, when it is a bit cloudy, the weather is just perfect to bask in the sun.

Cooking the Char Koay Khak
Cooking the Char Koay Khak

After ordering my coffee, I walk around to get my food. In Malay-style kopitiam culture, the owner of the place only sell drinks. Food is sold by stalls that line up in front of the kopitiam, operated by different owner. In fact, you are free to bring your own food, as long as you order drinks from the owner of the place.

Char Koay Teow Char Kwee Tiau

That morning I ordered a lot of food. Char Kwee Tiau has always been my favorite. But the one in 77 Food Yard isn’t really that special. Instead, the char mee sua is much better and more tasty. Grace ordered char koay kak, made from flour and tapioca flour.

We had a good chatter and people watching that morning. Someone approach us, Form the way he greet us, I guess he is a monk. Looking at our 3 years old, the stranger go and bought a teether for our son. Our son is obviously too old for that, but still, we said thank you. Later, people said that the man is crazy. But for me, it is a nice encounter.

The kopitiam culture has changed as time pass. Nowadays, many place label themself as kopitiam, opens in air conditioned shopping malls, while in fact, it is just another restaurant. For me, I would still love the original kopitiam, the culture, the food and the interactions.

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