One may call it with a different name but its regulars would agree that Sang Wot Coffee Shop is one place they always glad to go. Hanim Mohd returns to the good ‘ol kopitam for a fix of familiar flavours, and faces too.
IF you ask the office workers in Jalan Bangsar-Jalan Liku area if they’ve dined in Hawaii, chances are most of them would answer yes.
You’re forgiven if you think these workers in this part of old Bangsar are paid well by their employers to allow them to visit Hawaii and dine there.
Well, yes, some may have been to the famous island but the majority of them would say yes to this humble kopitiam, Sang Wot Coffee Shop located at a row of low-rise shop houses at the busy Jalan Bangsar.
To most of its frequent diners, especially the staffers of the nearby press houses, the kopitiam is affectionately known as ‘Hawaii’.
It is unclear the exact story behind its namesake but it is believed it goes back to the proprietor’s late mother who used to don beautiful colourful floral batik sarong wrapped around her body off shoulders.
Rain or shine that was her attire and very rarely she would throw a shirt or a blouse over her shoulders. That image of her is still fresh in my mind as if I just saw her when I started working in the area in the mid 80s.
60 YEARS AND GOING
Sang Wot Coffee Shop has been in business since 1960. It has been with the Thiang family for generations. It is now run by a band of three elderly Thiang brothers. The Thiang uncles are polite and friendly but they don’t intrude.
Each of them has a role cut out for them namely the chef, the waiter and the cashier.
The chef always has a cheery disposition and is willing to part with his cooking knowledge. The self-taught chef says he learnt by observing, well, after all he was brought up at the coffee shop.
The waiter, on the other hand, is very efficient and always seen in a white ‘Pagoda’ T-shirt with knee length Khaki pants, while the cashier has a lighter job as he is not as energetic as the other two though sometimes he can be seen serving customers too.
From time to time, they have helpers or other brothers come in to help. The brothers speak good English and you can engage with them in a conversation on any subject.
They keep the menu simple and the quality (read: hot, freshly cooked and delicious) is consistent.
It’s the kind of place where you want to say ‘aloha’ to, which makes it a popular haunt for those within the vicinity which include doctors and office workers.
ALL DAY BREAKFAST AND SIGNATURE DISHES
Like any old school Chinese coffee shop, toasts and half boiled eggs are a compulsory menu apart from the usual kopitiam beverages.
If you don’t feel like having a heavy meal for lunch, you can order from the breakfast menu which is none other than the typical half-boiled eggs, toast (plain or with kaya and margarine), and sometimes if you’re lucky, there will be packed Nasi Lemak on the tables.
But more often than not, you would be tempted to order from their signature dish menu which is hard to resist. And these signature meals come in two sizes: small and big.
My personal favourite signature meal is Cantonese noodles. I usually opt for a mix of kway teow and mee hoon which is also known as ying-yong.
The broth is not overly thick and it has ribbons of egg drop nicely coated in it. The amount of vegetables (cabbage and sawi) are also ample which I like.
A friend has suggested that I should try its chili fried rice which she claimed some of her colleagues swore by.
And I can see why. I find that Sang Wot’s fried rice is what honest cooking is all about. It tastes like home-cooked nasi goreng.
Another dish that comes highly recommended is Hokkein noodles even though I personally believe that this noodle dish is an acquired taste.
The chef adds just enough black soy sauce to add depth and colour to the noodle without it being bitter, the taste that black soy sauce tends to give.
It’s not my favourite but it’s alright. In fact, this is perhaps one of the better tasting Hokkein noodles that I’ve ever had.
To flavour its signature dishes, the kopitiam uses only chicken meat and seafood on top of the various types of soy sauces.
But on every table, the Thiang brothers provide cut bird’s eye chili (cili api), pickled green chili, chili sambal and light soy sauce for diners to further enhance their meal as they like.
A friend adds cili api to all her dishes, while an ex-colleague pours light soy sauce on whatever dishes she orders before even trying them.
Nonetheless, I must say that the light soy sauce is very tasty. Mind you, the Halal soy sauce is not the kind you find in supermarkets but the one that is sold in bulk for restaurants.
If you are a regular and nice to Uncle Thiang, he might be obliged to sell you a container of 4kg.
Sang Wot Coffee Shop
WHERE No. 90, Jalan Bangsar, 59200 Kuala Lumpur.
EAT Halal Chinese Kopitiam hawker fare
MUST TRY Cantonese noodles (Ying Yong)
PAY From RM5
MOOD No-frill Chinese coffee shop ambience
SERVICE Staff are attentive and efficient
I SAY Give it a try
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