Killiney Kopitiam has kept the recipe from almost a hundred years ago, and has also introduced more items so that customers can have more choices.
Just a brisk five-minute stroll from Concorde Hotel, you’ll find Killiney Road, a short 600-metre long road lined with shophouses and eateries. The eateries offer Western, Japanese, and Vietnamese cuisine, and many local delights such as curry puffs, dim sum, nasi padang, and chicken rice. But perhaps the most iconic of these humble eateries is Killiney Kopitiam, a traditional coffeeshop that has been serving its well-loved coffee and toast at Killiney Road for almost 100 years.
The name Killiney Kopitiam is synonymous with fragrant teh and kopi, which means tea and coffee in the local vernacular; as well as its signature kaya toast, a coconut jam made from a base of coconut milk, eggs, and sugar, spread over crispy yet soft white bread. Paired with perfectly cooked soft-boiled eggs, this quintessential local breakfast is hearty, wholesome, and simply delicious.
Killiney Kopitiam started in 1919, and still occupies the same shophouse along Killiney Road today. A loyal customer of the original coff eeshop, Mr. Woon Tek Seng bought over the shophouse from its retiring owners in 1992, in a bid to preserve the local coffeeshop culture. Mr. Woon explains, “The Hainanese people were one of the last to come to Singapore from China. There weren’t many jobs left for them back then, and many became cooks and kopitiam operators. In the past, Killiney Road was an enclave for the Hainanese. Sad to say, because of urban renewal, many of these traditional businesses and places no longer exist now. I would like for Killiney Kopitiam to preserve part of this rich Hainanese culture.”
Today, Killiney Kopitiam has almost 100 outlets around the world, with plans to open its latest in California’s Silicon Valley. But it is the original flagship branch on Killiney Road that takes the honour of being the oldest existing Hainanese coffeeshop in Singapore. To this day, this flagship branch still uses charcoal to toast its bread and prepare kaya, a painstaking effort that requires constant stirring by hand.
The very down-to-earth and amiable Mr. Woon, who used to frequent Orchard Road in the past to have his fill of local delights like mee pok, fried kway teow, and beef noodles, explains, “Killiney Kopitiam is a very special place. Here, you can come anytime and have your traditional breakfast all day long. We’ve kept the recipe from almost a hundred years ago, but have also introduced more items so that customers can have more choices.”
As a testament to Killiney Kopitiam’s dedication to providing consistent, trusted quality, the branch sees regular customers who have been coming back every day for more than 20 years. They are joined by other locals and tourists alike, who come for the coffeeshop’s nostalgic ambiance, lovingly prepared traditional fare, and a good walk down memory lane.
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