Friday, 8 March 2013
Ling Nam Kopitiam in Paloh, Johor
At the Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Conference and Awards (MITBCA), we bumped into reader Ooi and her hubby Koe (owners of Serai Inn in KL). I mentioned that we will be food hunting in the smaller Johor towns on the way back to JB. Ooi immediately suggested Paloh which she had just been to recently. Ooi suggested that we try the wanton mee, curry mee, and the traditional kopitiam, Ling Nam.
So yesterday, as we headed south after MITBCA, we diverted to Paloh. It turned out to be a most interesting and fruitful trip. Thank you so much, Ooi and Koe :)
After exiting at the Yong Peng toll, it was another 30 km of windy, twisty, undulating roads passing oil palm plantations and the occasional small rubber plots.
Paloh is a small town. The whole town could be covered in 15 minutes of brisk walking. That grayish building in the middle is Capitol Theatre. It had its last screening a long time ago.
Ling Nam kopitiam is that pink shop with blue wooden windows, on the left along Jalan Abu Bakar.
This is the interesting, sun beaten bamboo curtain at the shoe shop next to Ling Nam kopitiam. The motif looked so charmingly 1960s.
We ordered Mr. Wong's famous kopi and kaya toast.
Each kopi personally made by Mr. Wong, who had been running Ling Nam for over 50 years, was robust, full bodied and smooth.
Ling Nam's kaya toast is unique. The slices of butter and kaya filled the pocket made by cutting open the thick slice of toasted white bread.
Mr. Wong squeezing his famous homemade kaya into the toasted bread pocket.
Kumes enjoying the delicious kaya toast and kopi.
The bread which Mr. Wong got from the town's traditional bread man was very light, airy and especially crispy after Mr. Wong's skillful toasting.
We wanted to buy some old style bread to bring home but the bakery was already closed when we were leaving Paloh (around 2:00pm).
Have you tried coffee made with well water? This is Mr. Wong drawing water from the 60-foot deep well at the back of Ling Nam kopitiam.
The well water was so clean that you can drink it straight from the well, without boiling.
Mr. Wong is passionate about the heritage of kopitiams. He patiently shared with us, the story behind the early versions of fizzy drink bottles. Mr. Wong shared that early fizzy drinks were called "Holland water" 荷兰水 because they were first imported from Jakarta (then, a Dutch colony).
Mr. Wong showed us the various types of milk tin openers. He then demonstrated his skills in opening a milk tin with a old style can opener blindfolded within 3 seconds. Amazing.
These bottles of "candy" caught my eyes and I couldn't resist asking Mr. Wong what they were.
Mr. Wong poured out the colourful "candies" onto the marble top table.
It turned out that these were paper "bullets" made by rolling empty cigarette boxes. People growing up in the 60s and 70s, would fondly remember playing with these during their growing up years. Mr. Wong is a good shot with the "lastic" which he uses to shoot at lizards and cockcroahes in his kopitiam. Mr. Wong takes great pride in keeping his kopitiam spic and spank, there was not an insect nor lizard in sight.
Small town kopitiams have a rustic charm and human touch which are rarely matched by modern cafes and coffee shops. To me, the time we shared with Mr. Wong was well worth the 30 km diversion off the North-South highway.
As we said our goodbyes, Mr. Wong gave each of us a bottle of Ling Nam's fresh kaya. Thank you, Mr. Wong.
We will be back again :)
Restaurant name: Ling Nam kopitiam
Address: 26, Jalan Abu Bakar, Paloh, Kluang, Johor
Hours: 6:30am to 3:00pm
No pork, no lard, no Halal cert
Date visited: 7 Mar 2013