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KennethT

Kopitiam

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Posted (edited)

So my wife and I finally made it to the new incarnation of Kopitiam.  We went there once when it was in the old space, which was basically a closet with 4 counter stools about 2 feet from the register and were underwhelmed, but now that they have moved into a much larger space in the LES and have received TONS of great press, we decided to give it another try.

 

The new setup is quite nice - it's a lively room with a good amount of seating - there are both tables for 2 and 4, a large communal table, and some counter seats at the window.  The ordering scheme is similar to the standard kopitiam (coffee shop) in Singapore/Malaysia - you order at the counter and tell them where you are sitting, and then they bring you the food when it is ready.  Once nice thing is that they won't let you order at the counter until you have a seat - and people waiting to sit don't hang over the diners like vultures - the very nice staff will help with the seating arrangements.  Once seated, they don't rush you out either - in fact, there were a few times when I was about to ask the wait staff if they had forgotten to bring one or two of our dishes.  There's also a decent amount of space between tables - it's nice to be in a casual place and not be on top of your neighbor or hear their conversation more than your own.

 

The new menu is quite large - much larger than in the previous space.  It is broken up into snacks and larger dishes and then a selection of kueh which are like sweets.  Some items are made in batches - like the kueh and the curry puffs.  When they sell out, it can be a long time until they are refilled.

 

It's hard for me to judge this place as a typical New Yorker would - as someone who loves Singapore and its local food, my expectations of both flavor and value don't necessarily translate here.  If I had never been to a typical kopitiam, I would think this place was excellent and might return often.  But as it is, it is a little hard for me to reconcile my idea of value - but then again, real estate prices in SG/Malaysia are not NYC either...

 

Otak Otak - this is a mousse made with fish, egg and curry paste, then steamed in a banana leaf.  The texture of this version was much looser than we've had anywhere else - like it wasn't quite set yet.  The flavor was ok - but very strong on the chili which basically overpowered everything else.  It was ok when had with the rice, which you had to add for $2 extra.

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(sorry for the view of the eaten chicken wing!)

 

Pulut Inti - this is my wife's (and mine too) favorite kueh...  It's made from sticky rice stained blue using a butterfly pea flower, cooked with coconut milk, and topped with dried coconut shavings cooked with palm sugar.  The rice should be slightly sweet and slightly salty.  This one, the rice had almost no flavor of it's own, although the palm sugar coconut shavings were good.

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Curry puff - this was the best thing we had... I went back on line to try to order another (or two) but they were sold out and it would have been at least 20-30 minutes for them to come back into stock.  This was probably the best curry puff I've ever had, anywhere.  The crust was delicate and flaky, and the potato filling had a great curry flavor.  When ordering, you can get it room temp or heated - I opted for heated.

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Belacan chicken wings - if you didn't tell me, I'd have no idea that belacan (fermented shrimp paste) was anywhere near these wings.  You could barely get a sense of it... I was hoping the belacan would come through a lot more.  Plus, it was like $6 for 5 tiny wing forearms...

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Kaya toast - in Singapore, this would be called "Bread Toast".  The bread here was a little too dense for my taste, and the butter was completely soft and melted.  To me (and many Singaporeans I have talked to) a proper bread toast should have ice cold pats of butter, in the warm toast and room temp kaya (coconut egg custard).  I love the contrast between the cold butter and the warm kaya and toast. The kaya here has decent flavor (they also sell it by the jar), and the butter is really good, albeit too warm to the point where it almost squirts out when you take a bite.

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Teh tarik - black tea pulled with sweetened condensed milk.  This was reminiscent of what it was supposed to be, but I was longing for a much stronger black tea, and a bit sweeter condensed milk flavor.  This one was on the watery side.

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Total cost was about $35 before tip.  In SG, this would have probably cost $10 if that, but again, NYC real estate so I understand...  All in all, while we were a little disappointed that the dishes didn't live up to our expectations, we enjoyed ourselves there and would go back again.  I am also curious to try some of their larger dishes - it looks like they had a shrimp laksa (but they didn't call it laksa so maybe it's just a shrimp noodle soup) and a beef rendang that I'd like to try.  I also need to have another of those curry puffs!


Edited by KennethT (log)
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You know, having been to the old one, I was excited to try the new one.

 

But, like you, I wondered why all the adulation after my meal.

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Thanks a lot for the report! So sad that I'm strictly low-carbing, so no curry puffs for a while!

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7 hours ago, Pan said:

Thanks a lot for the report! So sad that I'm strictly low-carbing, so no curry puffs for a while!

Yeah, that place is definitely not for the carb conscious!

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