When I met my wife Jun after work on a Friday evening at Kopitiam, we were a bit torn. The Malaysian café that had long been on my radar for its savory and sweet snacks was nowhere as big as we had expected. There was one small blue counter with four stools, and utensils were all plastic. The shop also has take-out options so we debated whether we should just order some foods and bring them home instead. I wanted to spend more time outside with Jun after our dinner for a romantic date night so persuaded her that we eat at the café. Actually, we both got tired after our meal that we ended up going straight home afterwards (a sign of a lazy married couple). Anyways, the Malaysian dishes at Kopitiam were interesting but ultimately not quite as satisfying as I had hoped.
The dishes at Kopitiam, inspired by the street food of Malaysia known for its diverse influences from neighboring countries like Thailand, are good for sharing (although you need to ask for side plates to do so). For the savory dishes, we tried several popular items on the menu. Nasi lemak, a dish of coconut rice with egg, cucumber and anchovy, was a little too overpowering in flavor for us, as was the chilled spicy sesame noodle with cucumber and egg. We both love spicy kicks to our food, but both dishes were on the heavier side instead of displaying a purer form of spiciness.
On the other hand, the daily special that was going to be offered the next day, Nyonya style beef rending, was quite delicious. The beef braised in Nyonya style dry curry had a nice earthy flavor to it ended up becoming quite addictive to my palate. For the sweet dishes, Malaysian kaya butter toast is the way to go. A simple looking toast with butter paste inside, this would go quite well with one of their Malaysian coffees on the menu. On the other hand, despite high expectations, the muah chee dish (fresh hot mochi peanut, sesame and sugar) turned out to be very disappointing, with a texture that was too sticky and the combination of peanut, sesame and sugar not adding much.
As noted above, Kopitiam is more like a coffee take-out shop than a full-blown restaurant so there is no reservation. If you want to sit down for a meal, consider stopping by early as there were actually quite a number of people who stopped by for one or two snacks or coffees during our visit. Do try one of the Malaysian coffee or tea options on the menu. Jun was somewhat more complimentary of the food at Kopitiam (“I think I can make those with right ingredients,” she says), but I wished I liked it even more. For some quite bites, it is not a bad place to visit if you are in the area before taking off for a night out in Lower East Side. For a full meal, though, it left something to be desired.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 7.5/10
- Ingredients: 7.5/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 7.0/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 51B Cana Street, New York, NY 10002
Telephone: (646) 894-7081