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Nate @ House of Annie

Great story and great find! I don't see too many of these U-shaped counters around. I think it's much more efficient than individual tables. It also elicits a greater sense of camaraderie.

John Thompson

I love your photography!


What is the 'Tokyo' in Kedai Kopi Din Tokyo? And that green and white saucer is nothing to do with the classic Hainanese kofi flowery set?

It's similar to the traditional Japanese Sushi bar - the U-shaped counter and the chef is also the host - there are smaller ones in Japan that open for Japanese men, after work drink and food - the great sense of camaraderie as Nate said.It might have changed now, but traditionally women don't set foot in these places.

But - I don't get this kuda - is it traditionally an Islamic eatery because it is (or looks) gender segregated? So do they have kuda for women? And is it regional or all across SE Asia (in the Muslim community)?

I guess that means you walked into a Man's world then?


Exactly Nate. I'd never seen them till this trip to Kelantan -- then we were seeing them everywhere, mostly in warung-type places or just out under trees.

Katy, Pak Din bought the place from another guy 12-15 yrs ago, I think he said, and it was Kedai Kopi Tokyo (he doesn't know why "tokyo"). So he just left the name and added his own.

It's called "kuda" because of the long wooden benches. You have to swing your leg over to sit down (they are really, really long) like getting on a horse. It has nothing to do with Muslims or gender -- there were Chinese eating in there the night we arrived, and a couple women, more women during the day. Just no Chinese in the photos bec I think the Chs population in KB is sth like 5%, not many.

Surprisingly, though Kelantan state is controlled by conservative Islamic party PAS, KB does not "feel" particularly conservative. There are "tangible" markers of its status -- liquor is hard to find, bars are few to none, the official weekend is Fri/Sat (yes, banks open on Sunday which is a work day for everyone), one street is blocked off on Fridays for outdoor prayers and ALOT of pple show up, most women wear the tudung -- KB feels in many ways more liberal, if that's the right word, than some parts of KL. And it's nothing like eastern Turkey. Market vendors are ALL women -- this is different to other parts of Malaysia -- and women work outside the home and go out by themselves and all that. In general KB Malays are more welcoming, open to outsiders -- at least that was our experience -- than some in KL. Far from the capital and all that, I don't know.

This was definately not the Malaysian equivalent of a tea house in eastern Turkey.


Hey John -- thanks so much! The photographer has his own blog as well: http://davidhagerman.typepad.com and he's got a few slideshows up at NYTimes website, you may be able to search him there.
Thank you for stopping by!


On this rainy day in Auckland that soup sounds just the ticket. I laughed at your comment about the teh tarik because my husband and I often order, too, just to watch it being pulled. I do remember going to a very simlilar shop in Penang, but it was so many years ago now I couldn't tell you where. Fairly central I think it was. That particular one was quite male-based, and mostly elderly men like the ones in the smaller towns. I wonder if it still exists.


Thanks for the comment Marie. If that shop in Penang that you went to was in George Town (in Little India, maybe?) there's a good chance it still exists. It's mesmerizing, watching a good tea "puller".


Sigh..... This post makes me long for the food from my Indonesian hometown. A lot of the small restaurants there also have this elbow-to-elbow set up and familiar atmosphere.

And the sup ekor, in Indonesia we call them sop buntut. I love making them in winter, so hearty and comforting.

Simon @ SoyRiceFire.com

Love the story! Black pepper on soft-boiled eggs? Border cuisines are always surprising and fascinating!


What beautiful shots. I had my eggs and coffee at White House Kopitiam, while the breakfast fix was had at Capital Nasi Dagang. Indeed, KB is a mighty fine place to mingle.


really nice write up and images .. so miss the teh tarik and nasi lemak !! btw what is that fried dough in the image along with the eggs? looks sinful :D


really nice write-up! was browsing around looking for info on this kedai kopi and when i finished reading, i feel like going to kota bharu right this minute! thanks for the info and beautiful photos.


Just went there for breakfast after reading this post and wow! It is so wonderful when places live up to what you read. Thank you so much for sharing this gem of a place. We helped ourselves to the wonderful array of serve yourself dishes. The coffee is the best I have had for a long time and we got taught how to say it exactly how we like it in Malay "Coffee o kasong" translating to hot plain coffee ( no sugar, no milk) mmm we will be going back there soon. I want to try the soft eggs with black pepper and the various delicious looking meals wrapped in paper and banana leaf they were very popular.

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