The truth was – this was not my first choice for the selection of restaurants under the Feed At Raffles promotion. Fourth in fact. Who won’t be, as Kopi Tiam had a reputation of serving ordinary hawker food at extraordinary prices.
With Hainanese Chicken Rice at $17++, Popiah at $7++ per roll, Nasi Lemak at $15++, Chilli Crab at $55++ per serving and Teh Tarik at $6++, this was no ordinary coffee shop.
Despite the price, Kopi Tiam had been serving for more than 18 years, known as the up-market place that offered the best of Singapore local delights under one roof. The restaurant was quite packed on a weekend. I wondered, “Why did these people get their money from, and did they all have the same card?!”
I saw enviously at these two tai-tais slurping on their fruit juices while I only only has the budget to order water. $8.00++ for a small glass you know?
The Laksa ($15.50++) had been Kopi Tiam’s all-time favourite signature dish. It was not hard to imagine why. The big bowl came with huge prawns, chunks of fish cake, fleshy taupok swimming in oily thick ‘lemak’ gravy. The mouth-watering gravy would make you forget the need to control your cholesterol intake. Did I mentioned I guilityly finished every bit?
Perhaps we had enough of eating diluted-gravy, ingredient-lacking and chopstick-deficient laska, the version at Kopitiam was a treasure find. Then again, it better be since it cost 5 times more than my coffeeshop laksa!
Contrastingly, the Chicken Curry was disappointing. The gorgeous-looking gravy was marred by thick and dry dry dry chicken pieces were hard to swallow. The ‘lao hong’ papadum that came along with the rice lost its crisp, obviously left out for too long.
The Braised Pork Kong Bak with Deep Fried Buns, a usual funeral dish for me, was a saving grace. The tender salty meat wrapped within the fluffy buns was satisfying, especially when fatty oil spilled out inadvertently.
The best part of this meat was really the service. The waiter treated the customers like old-time friends. I commented to my friend about the unusual piped music. And he went, “Yes, Shi Xin Hui, not very popular one.”
I came only because a friend had a Feed At Raffles Card. Now, would you pay that much for your daily hawker fare? This may be a suitable place to bring a friend from overseas who does not want to brave the heat. Kopi Tiam has some hits and misses – so know what to order. Other, go to the real kopitiam loh.
Kopi Tiam 咖啡店, 2 Stamford Road 2F Swissotel The Stamford Tel:+65 6431 6156
Opening Hours: Mon–Fri 11.30am – 2.30pm, 6pm – 11pm Sat, Sun, PH 11.30am – 11pm