Although peranakan-style kopitiam becomes popular in Jakarta nowadays, I usually just want to steer clear and reserve the experience whenever I can visit the real deal abroad.
Well, abroad doesn’t mean that it has to be in Singapore or Malaysia. We got some classic as well as modern kopitiams in Bangka for example, and I visited some during a trip several years ago. But when talking about Singapore because of my recent trip, I decided to skip the mainstream choices in malls and head straight for individual kopitiam which you can only find downtown or at the Chinatown.
That’s when I found out about Tong Ah Eating House.
The original place, which was really beautiful and located on an intersection where you can overlook the Chinatown in 270 degrees, has now been sold to Potato Head – one of Indonesian prominent F&B groups from Jakarta. I finally got to see Three Buns as well there!
Lucky enough, Tong Ah moved a bit further inside the neighborhood but still nearbly.
As expected, the place was busy and there’s not much too see except for the serving station. A sight of the old kopitiam kettle is more than enough to tell you that they mean business but I saw also the sous vide machinery as well. That’s certainly for the soft boiled eggs!
The service was quick and concise but it would be great if you could bring a friend who speaks Chinese like I did back then. I was practically just sat down and waited for the food to come.
Anyway, my milk coffee was just perfect. Some say that it’s a skill only owned by kopitiams who have their way of brewing coffee, although mostly use robusta beans.
The toast though, was not exactly as I expected. The usual ones I have are usually thinner and crispier, but Tong Ah’s kaya toast tasted like home, a bit thick and not too crispy.
Finally, it’s the egg. Unlike the warkop in Indonesia, we have to crack the eggs open by ourselves and despite using the sous vide (which I didn’t see personally), the egg was just lukewarm and uninspiring. It reached the much desired consistency at the very least.
So anyway, even though it was just a brief visit, it felt good to visit what Singaporeans are proud of one at a time. After chicken rice and kopitiam, perhaps chili crabs and raw fish porridge come next for my future visit. We shall see!
TONG AH EATING HOUSE
35 Keong Saik (Siak) Road, Singapore