Franchises, they are everywhere. Sometimes when I drive around the shop houses in a new neighbourhood, it gives me a sense of familiarity. Did I not see this restaurant before? Wasn’t I just in this restaurant last week? But the answer is no, not really. Well, I may have been to a similarly-named restaurant before, but not to the exact same one in that new neighbourhood. And that is the effect franchise restaurants have on me. It makes places look all too similar, it takes away their identity and most importantly, it scares me. Imagine if all restaurants are managed by franchisees, then every town, every city will bear the same group of restaurants. I can be, for example, in Kampar and it will have the same bunch of restaurants as those in KL, where is the charm?
Traditional Hazelnut White Coffee, Roasted Coffee, Hailam Milk Tea & Milo
In surviving the competitive world of F&B, many restaurants strive to be different, unique and to have their own identity. Hailam Kopitiam Bangsar, not really a franchisee but more of a licensee, seems to be doing more than just offering good kopitiam food for the locals. With tough competition from similar concept restaurants such as Old Town White Coffee and Pappa Rich, Hailam Kopitiam claims that it differs mainly in pricing. Most of the items here are priced 20-30% lower compared to their competition. But wait, cheaper doesn’t mean better, or does it?
Passion Fruit & Dragon Fruit Shake (RM7.50)
Hailam Kopitiam Bangsar may well be seen as another copycat restaurant but as the saying goes, “Never judge a book by its cover”. Indeed, that’s what we did not do, as we marched straight ahead inside, hoping to find something that makes this restaurant unique. And boy, were we glad we did! Firstly, their Toasted Sliced Bread with Butter & Kaya was oh-so-crumbly and light! I finished eating a piece only to find that my shirt was filled with fine crumbs, but it was so good! Eat it once it’s served, when it’s warm and the butter was just slightly melted within. What makes it different? Instead of using the bread supplied by Hailam Kopitiam’s central kitchen, this cafe gets its supply of Hainanese bread from Ah Weng Koh in Imbi Wet Market. Yes, you can only find such brilliant toasts from the Bangsar outlet.
Toasted Sliced Bread with Butter & Kaya (RM2.50)
Tuna Egg Sandwich (RM5.20)
Chicken Deluxe Sandwich (RM7.20)
Their Nasi Lemak Special with Rendang Ayam came with the whole works – sambal, a whole boiled egg, fried anchovies, peanuts, chicken in curry gravy, slices of cucumber and fragrant santan (coconut milk) rice. I especially loved the rendang ayam (chicken) which was served with thick, coconut-y gravy that wasn’t overly spicy. It gave the rice that much flavour, while the chicken remained deliciously tender and moist.
Nasi Lemak Special with Rendang Ayam (RM9.60)
Who would have thought the Mix Fried Mee here could be on par with those found from Chinese restaurants outside? I mean, after all this was Halal, but it certainly did not taste like it was missing anything. The plate of Cantonese fried noodles were flavourful and had the unmistakable heat of wok that made the whole combination so mouth-watering. Yes, I think the poached egg made the difference, too.
Mix Fried Mee (a.k.a. Cantonese RM7.80)
The Hailam Tomyam Fried Rice did not look too enticing but it had all the elements of a nice plate of tom yam fried rice – sour, spicy, savoury and a hint of lemongrass flavour within. Of course, when it comes to anything spicy and sour, I’m biased. 😉
Hailam Tomyam Fried Rice (RM8.80)
Hailam Fried Mee (a.k.a. Hailam Mee RM8.50)
Apart from the toasts, what was most impressive to me that night was the Hailam Chicken Chop with Original Sauce. You see, I started eating chicken chop from as young as 5, and my grandma is a brilliant cook! Even though I was more used to grilled chicken chop, I did enjoy the occasional deep fried versions we found from the local coffee shops around our town. After staying in the metropolitan, however, I found it harder and harder to find really good chicken chop. Most of the time, they have this frozen, bland and dry taste especially after being deep-fried.
Hailam Chicken Chop with Original Sauce (RM14.20)
I had my share of apprehension before digging in, but it was all unfounded. The chicken chop was surprisingly tender and juicy, with no sign of dryness at all. In fact, it was not even oily – the skin was only lightly battered and very crispy. This was also when I found out that instead of using the frozen supply of chicken chop from Hailam’s central kitchen, they painstakingly get their supply of fresh chicken from the market daily, therefore these chops are not frozen. Highly recommended!
Traditional Hailam Roasted Coffee (RM3.20)
To say that I was blown away by the food at Hailam Kopitiam Bangsar would be an exaggeration, but I was most certainly impressed by their toasts and chicken chop. Those are the two main reasons that make this kopitiam different, and the same reasons that would keep me returning for more.
Hailam Kopitiam Bangsar dining environment
Hailam Kopitiam Bangsar
Hailam Kopitiam Bangsar (opposite Bangsar Village) – HALAL
25 & 25A Lorong Ara Kiri 1
Lucky Garden Bangsar,
59100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Contact No.: +603-2201 2307
Website: www.hailam-kopitiam.com / Facebook Page
Opening Hours: Sun – Wed (7:30 am – 12:00 am), Thu – Sat (7:30 am – 1:00 am)