Ahh...It has been a long time since I last went back to Kek Seng. It was only this week that I decided to pay a visit to this coffee shop or kopitiam which is located along Penang road. Kek Seng is no stranger to any Penangnite as it is one of the many old kopitiams in Penang that survived through the decades. In it's heydays, Kek Seng is probably synonymous to some of the more recent local franchises like Old Town that serves good old tea and coffee and many other local delights. It has built it's reputation over the years as the place that serves the best ice kachang although the top spot has now been taken over by the stall at New World Park aka Swatow Lane. Besides the ice kachang, Kek Seng is also famous for it's laksa and koay teow th'ng.
However, it seems like fate have changed quite a lot for this coffee shop. Although it was lunch time, I was rather surprise that it was rather empty. I remember that back those days you have to queue to find a table. It is not only when I looked at the sign on the clean white tiles on the wall that I understand why business has dropped considerably. As brash as it sounds, the statement proceeds to tell all patrons to order drinks or they will be fine RM0.40! With that sort of statement, who wants to eat here? Anyway, while I was clicking away, the owner must have realised that I was a food blogger and I heard her explaining to the laksa stall owner in quite a loud manner; as if to let me hear why they had to execute such regulations. What ever it is, it doesn't justify the RM0.40 and I believe it is a big turn off to many people. As if that isn't already a big turn off but listen to this. The drinks cost a bomb! I mean RM 1.40 for teh pheng or barley pheng is daylight robbery by any standards in Penang. I also notice that the kopitiam owners also treat people quite differently - in an arrogant way and I am sure some people would have been offended. I'm sure a little PR can go a long way to help them improve their business.
While Kek Seng is famous for it's laksa and koay teow th'ng, nobody seems to be ordering any of them now. Everyone seems to be having the chicken rice including me. I guess it's probably something to do with the herd mentality or in my case, I just felt like having rice for a change. It was average by any standards.
I also ordered pohpiah and I must admit that the pohpiah stall at Kek Seng serves quite a decent pohpiah. The pohpiah skin is smooth and the fresh ingredients consisting of lettuce, sweet chinese turnips, bean spruts, garlic, crab meat, minced tow kua and dashes of thick sweet soya sauce harmonizes the flavours nicely. Additionally, the juices from the popiah are well preserved within the skin and they do not ooze out easily and make the outer skin soggy. The pie tee from the pohpiah stall is also a must try as the pie tee shell is very crispy and fresh. It cost RM 2.00 for four pieces.
Sibling rivalry in action - pohpiah and it's little brother; pie tee in action.
For the finale, I ordered the ice kachang with durian ice cream at RM3.50. It has certainly lost it's magic touch although I did enjoyed the homemade durian ice cream.
As a final say, for those of you who which to get in touch with your nostalgic feel with Kek Seng, just remember to play by their new rules. Otherwise, you will be bitterly disappointed. The address for Kek Seng is as below:
Kek Seng Coffeeshop
382-384 Penang Road
Operating hours: 11 am to 4.30pm