Which Is The Pioneer Old Town Kopitiam?December 6, 2011 | 11,009 views
I remember vividly how that first experience changed my perception. I was one staunch believer that selling a cup of Old Town white coffee at double the price will only lead to eventual demise of the ambitious pioneer of this ‘kopitiam’ concept.
“What? You mean they’re selling a cup of Old Town white coffee at around RM2.50 when you can have a cup of the real deal at slightly more than RM1 in old town itself?! Who are they kidding?!”
And so, Mum could not help but being cynical herself. Aside from the comfort the place offered, there was basically nothing much revolving around this ‘trendier’ cafe masquerading as a platform to bridge the gap between the premiums (Starbucks … or maybe Coffee Bean since I am not sure which year did Starbucks come to Ipoh Parade), and the authentics (the Ipoh old town favourites).
Fast forward 7 or 8 years later, and this Old Town White Coffee chain has exploded all over the country. Expansion has been so rapid, I could not help but sniggered when I saw one in Parit Buntar, a town to the north of Perak. Then it dawned on me.
The franchising fee multiplied by a few folds since then. It stands at about half a million Ringgit Malaysia to start one now (last I remembered … it could be more though).
But … aren’t you curious as to where this all began?
It was at this slightly claustrophobic, small-time cafe admirably still left standing in Ipoh Garden South until today. Many have mistakenly thought that the first outlet was opened in old town of Ipoh.
Partly true, since this craze originated from the many coffee shops and coffee wholesalers tucked within the vicinity of between Jalan Bandar Timah (Leech Road) and Jalan Bijeh Timah (Treacher Street). Nam Heong is associated with the clever branding of Old Town White Coffee. Yet they were NOT the pioneer.
Anyway, if you’re wondering why this place is still named as Old Town KOPITIAM (like how they were all named as such), and not Old Town White Coffee outlets (all of the others are named as such now) … it’s purely for business reason. And this is the ONLY outlet left operating with the initial brand.
*Partly owned by a conglomerate did contribute somewhat to the commercial plans, but to what extent I am not sure.
The menu here shares the same items like the other outlets. BUT, slightly lesser choices since the kitchen is smaller and the place is not run by tens of staff (like in some of the high traffic/revenues-generators in Klang Valley), but only a handful of them.
I felt that Old Town has started to lose sight of its original direction; with additions of Western-style dishes and snacks like sausages, terrible nasi lemak with a piece of overfried and soggy chicken (in some outlets but some are doing it right), and even their famous kaya and butter toasts with their signature brown bread tasted awfully soft and chewy with a pathetic slab of un-melted butter; cold from the refrigeration.
Don’t get me wrong. Old Town to me, holds a special place in the heart. Since this exceedingly successful franchise hails from IPOH, my beloved hometown. But it has always pained me to be served with half-hearted attempts of a kopitiam meal, at double the prices yet tasting nothing like the original.
Let’s not get to the drinks served in some outlets … the Xi Mut Milk Tea (literally translated to Stocking Milk Tea) and the signature white coffee can be very sweet sometimes … and damn diluted the other.
But we still made our visits for the ambience, free Wifi and a more condusive environment where you don’t have to shout at the top of your lungs to get noticed or communicate.
And I am PROUD to tell you that …. this outlet in Ipoh Garden South not only serves a good French toast. They serve a DAMN good one at that. Even their Polo Bun was heads and shoulders above the rest.
No, it’s not sentimental values or nostalgia. Heck, I don’t even remember if this place is being run by the same proprietors anymore. Maybe yes.
But the fact that the warm (yes, WARM) Polo bun sandwiching a slab of MELTED butter in between was heavenly. I had a bite, and that bite consisted of a slight crunch. Oh … let’s not go to that Ham and Cheese Polo Bun which I absolutely hate when eating it from other Old Town outlets.
Scroll up to the first picture, and drool. The warmth melted the slice of cheese to a tad creamy texture; onto the slice of chicken ham that I swear was much better than the generic ones.
I wanted to try more from their menu, but this being a very light breakfast since this was not in my initial plans for a stopover. I mean, had I shouted out ….
“How i miss Old Town White Coffee in Ipoh!!!!”
….. on the All About Ipoh page, I would have gotten grenades, rotten tomatoes, stinking eggs and soiled diapers thrown from all directions. They are EVERYWHERE, so why bother going to one in Ipoh when the time can be spent on sipping the age-old classic of a fragrant and robust elixir in the REAL old town?
But …. sometimes, we tend to forget our roots. And when you’re dining at THE original source of fame, the bar should be lifted to meet higher expectations. This time, the Motormouth concurs. I am an addict, all over again.
*More information from their website.
*This is the FIRST Old Town Kopitiam outlet in Malaysia.
*This outlet is situated at Lorong Taman Ipoh 1, Taman Ipoh Selatan, Ipoh, Perak.
GPS : 4.607385,101.118952