There’s nothing quite like a good breakfast to start your day, especially when it’s from a local kopitiam (coffee shop). There is the traditional Hainanese breakfast, consisting of perfectly-toasted fluffy white bread, sandwiched with butter and kaya, paired with half-boiled eggs and a hot cup of Hainanese kopi. Yum! Good for the belly, and good for the ‘gram.
And for those who’d prefer to start their day on a fuller stomach, a bowl of steaming hot noodles or congee is a great way to warm up the body. Not to mention, there are also curry puffs, breakfast muffins, chee cheong fun (rice noodle roll with sweet sauce), and croissants to choose from. The list doesn’t end here, though – read on to find out more!
1. Ho Kow Hainam Kopitiam, Jalan Balai Polis, KL
The history of Ho Kow Hainam Kopitiam dates back to 1956, when it was once a neighbourhood coffee shop along Lorong Panggung. After the kopitiam received an eviction notice in 2018, they decided to move to a shophouse nearby, sporting a new and improved look but with the same great taste.
Folks who once lived around Lorong Panggung would frequent Ho Kow for their toasts, eggs and traditional Hainanese coffee. Even with the third and fourth-generation grandchildren behind the coffee bar, Ho Kow still insists on using traditional methods to make the best Hainanese coffee in town.
Expect to queue when you visit this coffee shop because that’s how much everyone loves the food here. Besides toast and eggs, you should also try their curry chee cheong fun and dry chicken curry noodles. Be sure to be there early because their breakfast items sell out fast!
Address: 1, Jalan Balai Polis, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
2. Thong Kee Cafe, multiple locations
We weren’t kidding when we said you could have croissants at a local kopitiam. When the second generation took the helm, they decided to create an east meets west concept to attract a younger crowd to kopitiams. The original Thong Kee Cafe (known as Kopitiam Thong Kee) is located in Bentong, Pahang, but has now branched out with seven outlets across Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Selangor.
Their must-try signature dishes are Croissant 3-in-1, Croissant Kaya Butter, Muffin 3-in-1 (similar to English breakfast muffins), and TK Signature Fried Prawn Mee. The TK 1+1 is a popular drink choice, made with aromatic tea and a shot of Hainan espresso. Whenever I order from Thong Kee, I personally love to get their curry puffs as well!
3. Yut Kee Restaurant, Jalan Kamunting, KL
Those who’d love to get their fix of Hainanese old-time favourites should definitely make a trip to Yut Kee Restaurant. Yut Kee serves traditional dishes like Hainanese Pork Chop, Roti Babi, Hailam Mee, Beef Noodles, Roasted Pork Special and Lum Mee. These dishes are rare in Selangor, so give them a try when you’re here!
Operating since 1928, dining here will be a no-fuss, simple occasion. Be prepared to stand in line for 20 minutes or so, as the queue here can get long – especially during lunch, so be there early for breakfast! You’d also likely share a table with strangers if seats are limited.
Address: 1, Jalan Kamunting, Chow Kit, 50300 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +603-2698 8108
4. Restoran Win Heng Seng, Jalan Imbi, KL
Now, for those inclined towards a comforting bowl of noodles in the morning, this one’s for you. Win Heng Seng is your typical old-school kopitiam, with nearby office folks flocking here for lunch on weekdays. Though, if you’re there early for breakfast, you may get a seat easily.
It’s easy to be confused on your first visit here, as there are two pork noodle stalls. The Imbi Pork Ball Noodles (since 1969) serves the traditional ‘sam kan chong’ noodles, which is a bowl of noodles coated in a brownish soy sauce concoction, topped with minced pork, roasted sausage slices, and served alongside a bowl of soup with floating pork balls.
Imbi Ming Kee Pork Noodle (since 1986) serves a different kind of pork noodle, using a broth cooked for hours, and includes pork innards in their soup. Other food stalls you have to try at the kopitiam are the egg tarts and siew bao (BBQ pork pastry bun) from Tai Zi Ta, and the Sarawak kolok mee.
Address: 183, Jln Imbi, Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +6011-5752 9109
5. Oriental Kopi, multiple locations
Oriental Kopi stands on the pricier side of the scale when it comes to kopitiam food. BUT, a higher price point doesn’t stop Malaysians from having good food, as evidenced by the long queue every weekend in front of Oriental Kopi’s Bandar Puteri, Puchong outlet.
Experience Nanyang cuisine here, with dishes like Nanyang Curry Chicken Nasi Lemak and Mee Siam. Plus, their Portuguese egg tarts are handmade using traditional techniques – they’re so popular, you’ll see folks buying multiple boxes of egg tarts to bring home!
Fun fact: These egg tarts made it into the Malaysia Book of Records for the thickest crust, with 128 layers!
For those who love shopping online for food, you must try their Oriental Dry Noodle! The noodles cook in six minutes and taste exactly like freshly made Pan Mee from a kopitiam. It’s a nice addition to your home pantry for when you’re feeling like a bowl of noodles but too lazy to order takeout. Psst, there are actual fried anchovies in the packet! I know, right?
6. Hon Kee Porridge, Petaling Street, KL
Since 1949, Hon Kee Porridge has stood the test of time for 73 years, serving three generations of folks in and around Petaling Street. The seats are limited here in their no-frills environment, but the wait should be brief as people don’t linger around once they’re done eating.
Reviews on taste are mixed, but most will say that nostalgia keeps them coming back. Either way, it has become one of the must-try food items when visiting Petaling Street, especially their Raw Fish Porridge. The raw fish slices are meant to be stirred or ‘cooked’ in your hot bowl of porridge, and you’ll watch as the fish meat turns from red to white.
If you’re not a fan of porridge, they have chee cheong fun here as well.
Address: 93, Jalan Hang Lekir, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +6016-666 0603
7. ICC Pudu, Pudu, KL
If you love options, ICC Pudu is THE place for you. The ground floor is packed with stalls offering different types of street food, from noodles to kuih, guaranteed to fill your growling belly! Many of these food stalls are now run by second or third-generation successors, so you know you’re getting the taste of true tradition. Stalls here open as early as 6am, so you can have breakfast before the crowds start rolling in.
There’s so much to eat here that you’ll have to make a few visits to try everything; better yet, bring a group of friends and try multiple things together. A few popular options here would be the Hainanese coffee and toast from Ah Weng Koh Hainan Coffee, Imbi Kuih Bakul, ginger wine noodles from Imbi Pasar Mee Halia, and egg tarts from Bunn Choon.
Address: Jalan Kijang, Pudu, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +603 2111 1111
8. Sin Kiew Yee Shin Kee Beef Noodles, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, KL
Possibly one of the oldest eateries in the Petaling Street vicinity, this nearly a century-year-old beef noodle shop is a local legend. Shin Kee Beef Noodles has been here since the 1930s and is now run by third-generation owners. It’s usually packed during lunch, so be prepared to queue and share a table with some friendly strangers.
Their Hakka beef noodle recipe comes in dry or soup variations but is both topped with stewed minced beef by default. Select the type of noodle and meat (beef slices, beef balls, or beef innards) you want, and you’re good to go. For those heading here for breakfast, they only open at 10:30am, so make it an early brunch or late breakfast meal!
Address: 7A Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +6012 673 7318
9. The Fourth Generation, Laman Rimbunan, Kepong
If you’re not one to sit in hot and humid environments when dining, perhaps The Fourth Generation may have what you’re looking for. Serving traditional Hainanese flavours, their Hainanese coffee and tea selections are a must-try, paired with toast and half-boiled eggs.
Many other local and Hainanese delicacies are on the menu, all worth trying. The staff here are very attentive too–they asked if we wanted our drinks less sweet, and we were thankful for the reminder.
Address: No 124-G & 126-G, Jalan Rimbunan Raya, Laman Rimbunan, Kepong, 52100 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +603 6242 6081
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on 08 December 2022 and has been updated to include more locations.