Tong Ah Coffee: Super Crispy Kaya Toast!




I never really got used to Lattes and Cappuccinos even though I spent seven years in Australia. We even have one of those expresso machines at home at one stage and went crazy over frothing the milk. But at the end of the day, when the dust settles, out comes the trusty old coffee-stained coffee sock. I like my Kopi thick, fragrant, creamy and sweet. Call me a coffee pariah but I guess its the coffee I grew up with.

I reckon when you pay $5 for a cup of cappuccino, you are actually paying $4 to sit in a nice cafe environment, 50 cents to satisfy your caffeine craving and 50 cents to arouse your sense of smell and taste. In Australia, you can get a cappuccino for as little as $2, so I often wonder why it has be so much more expensive in Singapore?

Anyway, since we are still in the National Day spirit. May I just take the opportunity to extol our very own Kopi culture. While overseas the one thing I miss most aside from Roti Prata is a cup of Kopi or Teh C with Kaya Toast. And it is not just the taste of it. Ordering a cup of Kopi C Siew Dai (Coffee with evaporated milk and less sugar) just makes you feel very Singaporean. How many of us take pride in bringing our foreign guests for a cup of local Kopi and teaching them how to order Kopi? I find the most interesting one is trying to explain the meaning of Kopi 'O' Tid Loh (Extra strong black with sugar).



Let's not forget also the Teh 'C' which has been my favoured drink since I have been trying to cut down on Caffeine. A hot cup of Teh 'C' with Kaya Toast is the best $2 you'd ever spend on afternoon tea. The Teh 'C' was fragrant but the next time I would have to order Teh 'C' Kou (Extra strong) as it seemed to lack ooomph that day. 4/5

The Kopi is pretty good. They have a long history and used to roast their own beans. But nowadays they don't roast their own anymore but they still retain their secret blend of coffee beans which are sourced from different suppliers to protect the secret. This Kopi is fragrant with little acidity but with a good bitter bite to it. Its good for those who like their Kopi on the bitter side. 4/5

Drinking your Kopi or Teh from the saucer is not a sight we often see nowadays. I think it disappeared when we started using the glass cups with no saucers but was never revived when Kopitiams started reintroducing the traditional kopi cups. Then again it may be that as we get more developed, this practice may seem to be a little undignified?



The crispy Kaya Toast here is one of the best around but you will have to know what to order. If you simply order the Kaya Toast, you will get the thick sliced toast only. They have several grades of Kaya Toast here and you have to make sure that you order the Grade A Kaya Toast. This is the one that has been toasted and re-toasted several times over to achieve a super crispy and brittle bread. It is excellent with the cold butter and homemade Kaya. The homemade Kaya here has got that nice Pandan fragrance and is the pale green and lumpy type. I prefer this version to the smooth, brown version. Ah! Kaya Toast is one of those simple things that really makes me feel so Singaporean. 4.5/5

Conclusion

This is one of the best thin sliced, crispy Kaya Toast in town! The Kopi is good but a little on the bitter side for my liking. For less than $2, you can just sit here at this landmark building, sipping Kopi and eating Kaya Toast and imagine what Singapore was like before independence!

Update 20 Nov 2013

They have relocated to a shop just opposite at 35 Keong Saik Road.

Tong Ah Coffeeshop
36 Keong Saik Road

Mon-Fri 11am to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 10.30pm

Sat & Sun 11am to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 11pm

Alt Wed off
62235083

26 comments:

liverpool1965 said...

My fav's for a kopi and teh is still Killiney's and their toast.. : )

ieat & itreat said...

I think you are just too modest to let our readers know that the best Kopi C is at your own Good Morning Nanyang Cafe!

Anonymous said...

how exactly does one order the grade A kaya toast ? - Wayang

ieat & itreat said...

Just tell them you want the Grade A, super crispy, thin Kaya Toast lah!

liverpool1965 said...

I cannot beat Killiney's traditional toast which started since 1919 : )...will let the customers do the talking...hehe

Anonymous said...

Ya! I'm so proud of our Singapore kopi & teh! Whenever foreigners wana try our local food I'll make sure they try our kopi too! Can't find it anywhere else in the world. I love cafe lattes and drink it almost everyday, but the funny thing is the moment I'm not in Singapore, I'll crave my kopi!!!

:) sbimbycat

Anonymous said...

wow.
looks so yummy.=)

Russ said...

1. McD does decent cappucino for $2.50 - anyway, Australia is now more expensive $3+ is common and with the exchange rate is SIN$4+ not so different from here

2. The "C" in Kopi C is the big "C" in "Carnation"

3. If you like local coffee, you must try it in the small coffee shops in KL. M'sia has a unique variety of beans (not arabica, not robusta) that is not exported (insufficient qty) but appears in top grades of local coffee that gives it a special taste you don't get in Singapore coffee.

ieat & itreat said...

Yes the Mac's cappucino would be the cheapest around. If they can do it for $2.50 why is everyone else selling them more expensive? Actually in a Sunday Times article last year, they were voted best tasting amongst the other cafe chains somemore!

kazataza said...

can your poll include teh (tea) as well? Teh also part of SG culture right? =)

Gonggg said...

If you are brewing coffee of your own, then, freshly ground coffee is the best...i.e. grind from the beans like you see in Cold Storage. The Americans prefer to drink it that well and is supposedly retain the richness of the coffee beans. This is exactly just like what you see in Western Cowboy movies, the cowboy brings out his small grinder to ground the coffee beans and then stuff them into the sock.

Generally, there are two types of coffee beans - Arabica and Robusta. Arabica originates from Brazil and Robusta comes from Vietnam. Generally, Arabica is superior..however, with Vietnam opening up its economy, many of its farmers are switching to cultivating robusta.

In some coffee shops, sometimes they mix corn with the coffee beans and have then fried. This generally results in coffee that is rather bland and flat in taste.

m said...

gosh i really miss tong ya. my old office is jus opposite there. i always start my day w good old kopi-o and their infamous buttery kaya toast!!

dropshot said...

Erms but how do you tell the old chinese/dialect speaking store owner that you want a "Grade A super crispy" kaya toast? Would he understand?

ieat & itreat said...

The son has taken over and he speaks English

JH said...

Erm... i think youre mistaken
when you order kopi tid lok means that you dont want the uncle/auntie making the coffee to mix it with water... so the uncle/auntie would not pour hot water into the cup of coffee, basically just pure coffee =)

extra strong would probably just be kopi KAO

ieat & itreat said...

Yes, I was too lazy to explain it. Thanks for elaborating on it on my behalf. Actually Tid Lok would be the most Kao Kopi.

mama bok said...

I do miss a good cup of kopi and teh kau.. and those kaya toast. I wonder when i can taste them again.. *sigh*..!

SCS butter said...

Ask the owner, This is probably the only place that the coffee outsells coke!!!

zhouzi said...

Hey russ, interesting tidbit about malaysian coffee but the only memorable kopi there is the ipoh "white" coffee and the kopi-o at Kluang station.

Brought back the powder from ipoh, malacca and kluang, the one from malacca was horrid; best was kluang(station).

Tried Tong Ah's powder those days when they still roast their own beans. Put me off. Same goes for a stall in Bedok North blk 216 called Rui Xing. Gonggg you did not mention they mix it with barley too.

garang01 said...

actually, i find that after Ya Kun started franchising, the quality went totally downhill.
i'm a big fan of local coffee, and will only take those watered down versions they call American coffee when there is a gun to my head.
anyway, for a chain that does very good local coffee, i like Ah Mei's coffee. Rich, fragrant and thick, without too much of a sour aftertaste...

Anonymous said...

yup I agree with you, garang01, Ya Kun should maintain the standards of their franchisee. especially Tiong Bahru branch, its sub standard.
only the main branch coffee at far east square still retained the flavour

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Vitis Vinifera said...

Killiney started in 1919 at Killiney Road, but the old man running the coffee shop had since sold the business to investors in the 90s.

I missed the Old Killiney.

Vitis Vinifera said...

Part of the fun in having Kopi here is that you can park at the roadside and play hide and seek with the parking warden.

Anonymous said...

Hi, wondering do they sell the Cripsy Kaya Toast @ Nite? I'm planning to go after work... roughly about 7pm....

bounty hunter said...

Try the horfun, bitter gourd pork ribs and special tofu here. The hor fun especially is full of wok hei and can top it off with good coffee some more.... other places to recommend is the nasi padang store across the street and the char siew at foong kee which is further up.

mr_bacchus said...

I have tried Tong Ah Coffeeshop, about six times intermittently between GMNC visits, and have found their consistency to be great, only one cup was watery (!). Their eggs on the other hand have been all over the place, sometimes barely coagulated, other times they plop out boiled. It is not a total deal breaker, but obviously is a slight annoyance. I think their toast is good. The thick white bread is a nice change up from the brown bread I find at most other places. Their kaya is indeed chunky and flavorful, I appreciate that it is not too sweet as well. Next time I will have to try that Grade A toast though. ^_^

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