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Pete Wells Says Malaysian Critical Darling Kopitiam Serves ‘Terrific’ Food

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The cafe serves standout snacks, but is still adjusting to its larger new digs, the critic writes

Potted plants hang from the ceiling in a naturally lit dining room with bar stools, high-top counters, and exposed brick. Photo by Jean Schwarzwalder

Kopitiam is dishing out food that is “almost unfailingly terrific,” writes Times critic Pete Wells — who commended both the Malaysian coffee and snacks in a one-star review of the charming Chinatown cafe.

It’s another win for the fast-casual, all-day spot, which also garnered a positive first-look from Eater critic Ryan Sutton after moving into larger digs at 151 East Broadway, between Rutgers and Pike Streets, from its original home, a tiny, four-seat counter cafe on Canal Street. While Wells had good things to say about breakfast dishes like nasi lemak and the fish ball soup, what really drew in the rosy review was cafe owner Kyo Pang’s expertise with snacks. Wells writes:

But one of the most inviting aspects of Kopitiam is Ms. Pang’s fidelity to the Malaysian love of snacks. Pandan leaves wrapped around a kind of chicken sausage; ground five-spice pork rolled inside bean-curd skins and fried; fried strips of mackerel sausage with a curry-leaf sauce — any of them makes a fine appetizer, but each could just as easily be the entire goal of a between-meals stop at Kopitiam. For that matter, so could the small sweets like pulut: triangular, pandan-wrapped bundles of sticky rice tinted with blue morning glory flowers and spread with toasted coconut sugar or house-made coconut jam.

Wells also thinks that America’s coffee scene might be a whole lot better if Starbucks had taken a cue from Kopitiam, which uniquely brews its Malaysian coffee by pouring hot water over grounds in the bottom of a sock — a fine art that trumps Starbucks’ espresso machines, Wells writes.

There was only one negative: Wells points out the cafe is still experiencing growing pains. Servers lose track of orders and the coffee selection shrinks during peak hours. For a short time one day, both coffee and tea were missing — “an awkward state of affairs for a coffee and tea parlor,” he writes. One star.


151 East Broadway, Manhattan, NY 10002 (646) 609-3785 Visit Website