My first visit to NP Kopi Tiam (North Park Kopi Tiam – NPKT) is on Valentineâ€™s Day â€“ of all days â€“ in 2006. The serendipitous result of â€œnowhere-drivingâ€ in the Santolan area, it had only been open for a few months at the time. Having just finished a full lunch but angling for dessert, I drop in for a cup (and a glass) of coffee.
Though the â€œNPâ€ isnâ€™t spelled out, itâ€™s apparent once I go inside that the two letters stand for North Park: cue the â€œahh!â€ moment of recognition. From the placemat paper-menu with its recognizable blue and yellow lettering to the wooden interiors composed of slats and sloping ceilings, every person whoâ€™s ever been to North Park (and thatâ€™s almost all of us) will instantly feel at home.
Back in 2006, the restaurant was divided into two â€“ the main dining area and a smaller space designated as the bakery. Because of NPKTâ€™s success â€“ and anything that owners Gabby and Paeng Soon does become successful â€“ the bakery was moved inside and its former space was made a dining area as well.
Kopi Tiam is generally known as â€œcoffee shopâ€ in Chinese, Malay, and other related languages. The Soon brothers have given it their own twist by offering a broad spectrum of food, North Park faves (mami and dimsum); Asian classics (Korean beef stew P210; Teriyaki Beef Belly) to cafÃ© standbys (all-day breakfasts like Angus beef tapa, pastries, and desserts). The dishes are from recipes culled from the Soon family favorites and creations, hence NPKTâ€™s menu undergoes frequent revisions. Every visit of mine has seen different and new offerings. I especially like the fried rice, the house Kopi Tiam Chami (P170), which doesnâ€™t look like much but is slippery and satisfying, and the Corn and Crab soup (P190), so thick with real crab that itâ€™s almost a chowder.
Although I have yet to come here for breakfast, itâ€™s one Iâ€™m highly anticipating.
Of course you canâ€™t eat here without having one of their coffee drinks. Whether it be the House Kopi, the Kopi with condensed milk, or one of the newfangled specialty coffee drinks, you can order something to pair it with from the menu or give in to one of the visual temptations on the cart laden with doughy treats. There are also a number of coolers like the Storm (P90, above), a fancy halo-halo or another kind served on a buko shell half. Iâ€™m not a big fan of the cookies and cakes here but the main dishes have me purring with contentment.
NP Kopi Tiam
3 C. Benitez St, Bgy. Horseshoe, Q.C.
Open everyday 9 am â€“ 2am.