{Review} Best brekkie in town @ Choon Hui Cafe

A good breakfast makes for a great start to the day, or so the saying goes. The best place for breakfast in Kuching I dare say is Choon Hui Cafe. Situated in a lone old shop house along a busy road in the heart of the city, this kopitiam is jam-packed with hungry hordes and the roadside parked full with cars causing a minor traffic congestion.

Coffees and teas are served in old school cups and saucers. Sometimes, you can even witness old men pouring their boiling hot beverages into the saucers and then sipping from there. I guess this process cools down the drink faster than letting it sit in the cup. Ingenious.

Serving the best ‘roti kiap’ in town, of course this particular item graced almost all of the occupied tables in the shop. Some people call it ‘roti kahwin’, aptly describing the perfect marriage – ‘kahwin’ means marriage in Malay – of butter and kaya generously slathered on nicely toasted chewy yet fluffy white toast. The difference with Choon Hui’s roti kiap is that they purchase their bread from one of the very few handmade charcoal baked traditional bakeries in Kuching. There was once they ran out of bread and had to resort to the usual variety from a common bakery and boy was everyone indignant!

Dip a slice of your roti kiap in your milk coffee – no sugar, mind you –  and you will hear the heavens sing.

Something else to dip your fabulous bread into is their half-boiled eggs. The secret to these eggs? Fresh chook eggs and a 555 stainless steel cup. I have secretly observed them making these eggs. First you put about six eggs into the cup, then fill the cup to the brim with boiling water. Cover cup with lid and time for ten minutes. The eggs are cracked and ready to be served! A dash of soy sauce and some pepper makes it even more awesome.

Choon Hui’s popiah is also one of the better ones in town. Unlike some kopitiams, they make these fresh atop a little portable table in a far corner of the shop. One of my favourite components of popiah is the skin. It is made from wheat flour and paper-thin. The roll is filled with a mixture of grated and cooked jicama, turnip, carrot, bean sprouts and lettuce to name a few. Prior to adding these fillings, the popiah wrapper is first slathered with shrimp and chili sauces as well as sprinkled with crushed peanuts. I usually ask for no chili and extra extra extra peanuts.

Another drawcard that makes Choon Hui so popular with the locals is their Sarawak Laksa. All laksa stalls use similar pastes as the base for their laksa broth but each add their own blend of ‘extras’ to make their products extra special. I happen to love the laksa here, succulent prawns, heavy handed with the ingredients, bouncy bee hoon and a very flavourful broth. Thumbs up!

And of course, a glass of ice cold Teh C Peng Kosong – iced milk tea without the sugar – to wash it all down while I savour the last bits of breakfast and sitting back to watch the people come and go in this little local gem of a place. Ah, such is the pampered life of a Kuchingnite.