A taste of heaven, off the beaten track

IF you can enjoy coffee to the hilt without the need to be in good company or the ambiance of a hipster café, then I will recommend that you try out an ordinary coffee shop at Taman Shamelin Perkasa in Kuala Lumpur, which is just a few kilometres from the Tun Razak Exchange.

Here, there are many old warehouses, shophouses, offices, and several new condominiums. It is easily accessible by many roads and highways. The signboard of this corner coffee shop at Lorong 1/91 has completely faded and Google Maps showed it as “Restoran Uncle Meng”.

It is open daily except Sundays and public holidays, catering mostly to nearby workers and residents. There are 10 stalls and lunchtime is usually crowded.

Customers often had to queue at the popular mixed rice stall and another stall offering freshly barbecued piping-hot char siu.

Whether customers dine in or takeaway, most would also order hot or cold drinks. Those arriving before the lunchtime crowd could easily find an empty table. Those observant will notice the tabletops are not only clean but have been wiped smooth from years of wipe-down.

After finishing my meal, I will then order my pièce de résistance. In Malay, it is called “Kopi-C-Kosong”. Kopi is for coffee, C stands for Carnation – the most famous brand of unsweetened evaporated milk – and Kosong means empty or without sugar.

The coffee is so delicious even without sugar or sweetened condensed milk, making local coffee served in all other coffee shops pale by comparison. It is smooth to the palate and tastes a bit like mocha, or coffee with chocolate added. It is pure local coffee and not Hainan tea.

I have a discerning taste. In blind tests many years ago, I could easily differentiate Coca-Cola from Pepsi, and name the brand of cigarettes. But foods deemed delicious by many may be unsuitable to me as they are often too salty, sweet, spicy, oily, or not the right texture.

The best cup of local coffee is not solely dependent on the coffee powder. For example, at a corner coffee shop at Jalan Yew in Kuala Lumpur next to the hugely popular claypot chicken rice shop, I could tell whether the Kopi-C-Kosong was prepared by the father or the son.

Decades ago, most Chinese coffee shops had skilled elderly men to prepare local coffee or tea, and they were regarded as sifus. Today, they are mostly foreigners, and their standards are much lower, just like the noodles they cook, as they have no idea how great the original tastes were.

However, there are some exceptions. For example, the person who prepares the greatest cup of local coffee is a foreigner, an Indonesian woman, working in a corner coffee shop at Taman Shamelin Perkasa. This Saturday morning, I drove there just to enjoy my Kopi-C-Kosong.

While leaving, I again gave the thumbs up and this time she said thank you to me, as office workers and customers were few on Saturdays. This prompted me to turn back and take a photo of her (see pic). If you love coffee, do add a visit to this coffee shop in your bucket list.

And be warned – local coffee will not taste quite the same after you have a taste of heaven here. – March 19, 2024


YS Chan is the master trainer for Mesra Malaysia and Travel and Tours Enhancement Course. He is an Asean Tourism Master Trainer and also a tourism and transport business consultant.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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