Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Singapore based personal blog of true stories by johorkaki@gmail about best food, people & places around the world

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Secret Traditional Nanyang Kopi in Chinatown Complex with Tong Ah 鏉变簽 Coffee DNA


Folks who live in Chinatown have a little secret traditional Nanyang coffee place which only people who live in Chinatown long enough knows - few outsiders know about Heng Wah Traditional Coffee Stall.


Heng Wah Traditional Coffee Stall looks like any of the dozen of small kopi stalls in Chinatown Complex. Tucked away in the dim inside aisle of the Green Zone, few outsiders would be attracted to or even notice this stall.

But, if one pays attention, you will notice that this little nondescript stall has a lot of regulars who know the kopi boss and lady boss very well.

Actually, kopi boss Mr. Tang Toh Lee is an institution in Chinatown.


Mr. Tang's grandfather founded Tong Ah 鏉变簽 coffee shop in 1939 in that micro Flatiron style building at the intersection of Keong Saik Road and Teck Lim Road. In 1968, Mr. Tang joined his father at Tong Ah coffee shop working as the kopi kia (coffee boy). Mr. Tang retired happily in 1998, thirty years later.


At the urging of his legion of fans, and I believe he also missed the smell of used kopi socks 馃槣, Mr. Tang quietly opened a kopi stall at stall #02-076 in Chinatown Complex.

So, now his loyal fans can hang out with vintage Tong Ah kopi and the kaya toast of legend again.


Mr. Tang uses the same coffee powder supplier when he was at Tong Ah. During his grandfather and father's time, Tong Ah used to roast their own coffee beans (like all self respecting coffee shops did back then).


My kopi O siew dai (black coffee with less sugar). This is my usual order nowadays.

I have never tried Tong Ah's kopi in the 1980s before, so I cannot compare this with kopi from that era.

Mr. Tang's kopi is medium bodied. Quite gentle in savoury bitterness even though little sugar is used to balance the flavour. The caffeine kick is moderate. It is an easy kopi to like, so I can appreciate why Mr. Tang's regulars crave for it.


But, what really got me was their signature Tong Ah style kaya and butter toast.

Kaya and chilled butter are sandwiched between lightly toasted plain white bread. (Kaya is coconut and egg jam.)

I love the blend of gentle savoury, salty and sweet flavours held together by the toasty taste of the airy light thin crispy toast.

Must Try this.


Mr. Tang uses good quality Australian butter for his kaya butter toast. He uses good quality ingredients to reciprocate the loyalty and friendship of his long time fans.


4-Stars (out of 5). Now that you know the secret, next time when you are in Chinatown Complex, you can gate crash the party of the Chinatown Complex kopi kakis at Heng Wah Traditional Coffee Stall 馃槃 Whether you like the old school kopi or not, Mr. Tang's legendary Tong Ah 鏉变簽 kaya toast is something you Must Try.


Restaurant nameHeng Wah Traditional Coffee Stall
Address: Blk 335, Smith Street #02-076, Chinatown Food Complex, Singapore 050335 (Green Zone)     
GPS: 1°16'57.7"N 103°50'34.4"E | 1.282705, 103.842889  
Waze: Chinatown Complex  
Hours: 7:00am to 2:00pm (Weds off)

Date visited: Numerous times since 2017

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1 comment:

  1. go and enjoy it , guys, these truly nanyang coffee and toasted butter bread will soon lose its originality


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