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By Tom• 28 May 2019 • 3 Comments
In Singapore and Malaysia, a kopitiam is the local go-to for a catch up over coffee and a bite to eat. 'Kopitiam' literally translates as 'coffee shop', kopi being Malay for coffee and tiam being Hokkien for shop. Vivian Street's first, authentic kopitiam took me right back to Singapore, and here are five reasons why you should make the trip.
This intense brew is strong, dark and chocolaty with a history dating back to 1900s Hainan. Robusta coffee beans (strong and bitter) are roasted over coals with sugar and butter, and then brewed in a traditional kettle. Inside the kettle is a thick, long 'sock' or cloth strainer, which over time adds to the rich kopi flavour. The result, while thick, is surprisingly smooth, not at all bitter, and without sediment or grit - it's exactly the sort of drink I'd choose to start the morning with.
Given its intensity, not many people opt for kopi o (black). Instead, most choose kopi c (with evaporated milk and sugar) or simply kopi (with condensed milk). In this case, you're treated to the tahrik, or 'pull', which is where the coffee and milk are skillfully poured between two vessels - at an impressive height - to create a frothier kopi.
The unique pairing of kopi with free range soft-boiled egg and kaya toast, aka the Singapore breakfast. Soft boiled egg is something of an acquired taste but certainly shouldn't be dismissed. Try this mild and creamy delicacy the Malay way: simply mixed with soy sauce, scattered with pepper, and eaten with a spoon. On the side, kaya toast: slices of toast, slathered with house-made green kaya (a sweet coconut jam flavoured with pandan leaf), and then sandwiched together with slabs of butter. It might seem slightly strange at first, but you'll be thinking about it again tomorrow.
Kopitiam's laksa is a sure contender for the best and most authentic laksa in town. These aren't just curried noodles, but real laksa, with a deep warming spice, prawns, fluffy tofu and Vietnamese mint. And the real kicker, vermicelli noodles chopped small enough that the whole dish can be eaten with just a spoon. This signature lunchtime dish is also super affordable at $11.90.
Kopitiam's Milo dinosaur will make you feel like an excited child. This simple Singaporean drink is simply a cup of iced Milo with a heap of crunchy, undissolved Milo on top. There’s certainly no skimping on the malt chocolate, and if it isn't the perfect accompaniment to spicy laksa!
I was humbled by the attitude of the owner and staff: they’re friendly and welcoming, here to help and enrich the community while bringing the unique taste of a Singapore to Wellington. Go try for yourself - Kopitiam is open breakfast and lunch, Monday through Saturday.
Vivian Street's first authentic Kopitiam brings a taste of Singapore to Wellington and strong contender for the capital's best laksa.
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