If you have been to enough food centers, you would have observed that although there are a few stalls selling kopi, there is usually one with a long queue that is recognized as the kopi king of the hill. I am not sure why this is so. It seems to me that it should be quite easy to make a nice cup of kopi once you managed to procure a good kopi powder. But, perhaps it isn’t as straightforward as it seems, or else why would there be one kopi to rule them all?
Over at Toa Payoh Lor 8 market and food centre, Tong Seng Coffee Stall is the king of the hill. The stall is run by 2nd gen hawker, Dennis Wong, 35 who has been helping out at the family stall since he was 16. There isn’t much of a secret to why his kopi is so good. He procures good beans, a blend that his family has been using for decades, and the beans are ground on the spot to ensure their freshness. The rest really boils down to dedication as this next-gen hawker works from 7am to 5pm every single day, only taking a break during CNY. That’s right, the bachelor is fully dedicated to his craft and is very focused on doing just one thing and he does it well. They don’t sell toast here. He is busy enough just making coffee and the occasional cup of tea for his customers.
Even though I usually order kopi C kosong, I was advised by my friend Alex that I should try their kopi ie with condensed milk. He is not wrong. The kopi is thick, rich, and chocolatey like a good Vietnamese coffee. It has just the right level of bitterness with no sour aftertaste. Indeed a cup of kopi worth traveling to for if you happen to be in Toa Payoh. Pity that there is no kaya toast to go with it! 4.5/5
A really good cup of kopi made by a hawker who is fully dedicated to his craft!