Kopitiam Hop: Bandar Sunway
July 28, 2019
Text by Chee Gee Ren
Long before contemporary cafes invaded the Klang Valley, kopitiams ruled our neighbourhoods, filled with stalls that serve comforting, cherished classics. Residents still flock for familiar fare at these kopitiams, many of which remain as popular as ever, with some stalls selling out before lunchtime.
In our new series, Kopitiam Hop, we’ll visit kopitiams at several neighbourhoods in KL and Selangor, sampling some of their best-selling offerings. This won’t be a comprehensive examination of each kopitiam but an introductory peek, a launchpad for further explorations.
Our first stop, Bandar Sunway, is sometimes better known for its imposing malls and offices instead of hawker fare. But you’ll still find thriving traditional hubs that represent Malaysia’s authentic food identity amid an ever-evolving landscape.
Garlic Roasted Chicken Rice
Our first stop is no stranger to students of Sunway College and University. Garlic Roasted Chicken Rice previously operated in Friendship Restaurant, near its current site, a magnet for huge crowds, including a feverish following of students. A thirst for independence and expansion prompted the stall owners to open their own restaurant six years ago - it turned out to be the right decision; on a recent weekday, business was brisk, with the restaurant nearly full by 10:30 a.m.
The recipe for the chicken rice is the founder's own, perfected over a decade of preparing these hearty platters. Golden flecks of fried garlic sprinkled over the chicken distinguishes the chicken rice (RM5), inspiring the restaurant's name. The fried garlic contributes both subtly sharp nuances and textural crunch to the chicken, of which even the breast meat is remarkably juicy, buoyed by a drenching of light but flavourful sauce. Our meal is rounded out with a rich soup laced with red dates, nourishing and sweet; the fact that the soup isn't an afterthought showcases the dedication poured by this restaurant into its work.
Restoran Sri S
Craving-worthy char siu with a charred caramelisation is the hallmark of Guan Xiang Wantan Mee, a stall in Restoran Sri S, where we savoured wanton mee topped with thick slices of char siu (RM7).
The char siu channels bittersweet notes from hours of slow-roasting that effectively complements the pork belly's meaty lusciousness. Guan Xiang boasts stalls in multiple locations in the Klang Valley, but the fact that this branch has been in business for eight years is an enduring testament to the tastiness of its noodle bowls.
New Ming Tien
New Ming Tien in Sunway Metro furnishes an affordable alternative to eating at nearby Sunway Pyramid. While Bandar Sunway isn't immune to new culinary trends, places like this preserve the no-fuss simplicity of a casual communal space to meet, eat and chat, without the need for striking interiors or Instagrammable food presentations.
Highlights include the dry pan mee (RM6), featuring noodles with a satisfying bite, crowned with crispy anchovies, minced pork and fried scallions. The noodles are slicked up with a sweet-salty sauce that's neither too greasy nor cloying, with the aroma of sesame oil lending a delicate nuttiness.
Ah Or Chu Yuk Fan
Next up is an institution for pork noodles among Sunway residents. Set in an unassuming shop-house in the more placid Sunway Mentari, Ah Or Pork Noodles lures an office crowd on weekdays for its piping-hot bowls of broth with the works, while on weekends, customers descend from all over the Klang Valley for this delectable treat.
Possibilities to customise your noodles prove plentiful: wet or dry, with or without innards, whether to toss in an egg or extra noodles, catering to appetites both modest and indulgent, palates prudent or adventurous. Our noodles emerge with no lack of minced pork, intestines, liver and lard (RM8.50), but the broth, light yet luxurious in flavour, is what makes this bowl aromatically indelible. An additional egg (RM1), its yolk scantly cooked, brings greater body to each slurp of the soup, multiplying the guilty-pleasure factor.
Hidden from view for passersby, this sprawling space sits on the top floor of Sunway Geo Avenue, primarily catering to the bustling lunchtime office crowd. The recently launched HD Bistro is a blend of kopitiam and food court, promising satisfying meals at substantial value.
Mrs Lee helms a noodle stall here that tackles prawn noodles, moving here from Ampang. Each bowl (RM8) is endowed with generous portions of the fixings, saturated in a broth that bursts with crustacean brininess. We also like the noodles of a lighter yellow hue, springy and reassuringly free of the artificial aftertaste of the brighter kind.
Working alongside her husband for many years, Mrs Lee says the secret behind her robust broth is "lots of prawn shells and the finest ingredients," yielding the alluring aroma that surrounds her stall. Wash your meal down with fresh coconut juice that triumphantly combats the heat.
Restoran Siang Sing
While toast is the tradition of kopitiam breakfast fare, Siang Sing brings a French spin to the staple with buttery croissants instead of white bread. The idea was born out of a love of croissants by the owner and her children, who found that the French pastries were rarely seen outside of higher-end eateries. Siang Sing helps to change that, with crisply warm, bakery-sourced croissants stuffed with a variety of potential fillings, from kaya and butter to savoury possibilities like a very runny sunny-side-up egg and ham (RM6.90) for a gratifying snack.