Kopi Roti group photo — I prefer the eggs without the soy sauce
My Bin tells me that when he was growing up, his mom firmly believed that eggs would make him tall and strong. She’d run around the house after him with a spoon and soft boiled egg in hand screeching, “Eat this! Eat this!” It’s because of this trauma of sorts that’s responsible for my Bin’s aversion to eggs; that he married me, an avowed egg-lover, could be some kind of weird retribution. But he is tall and strong, although I don’t think eggs can be attributed to that.
I cook eggs at least twice a week, most often for breakfast. Whether poached, fried, or usually soft boiled, I want the whites cooked ”˜til just set and the yolk very runny. It makes my Bin cringe to see me eating something that to him looks like white and yellow goo. I’ve actually been successful at getting him to eat soft-boiled eggs with me (sometimes), but he prefers them scrambled, really, as does Boo, so I’m alone on this one.
One place that we do all like to eat eggs at however, is at Kopi Roti. It’s similar to the kopi tiams, coffee shops scattered all over Singapore, where locals get their caffeine fix and talk shop. Because I grew up speaking Bahasa Indonesia, which is similar to Malay, the term “kopi roti” is very familiar to me: kopi is coffee, and roti is bread. And that’s exactly what you get at Kopi Roti. While not an extensive menu by any stretch of the imagination, what you’ll find here is representative of what’s served at Malay coffeeshops, quite different from the more recognizable Western counterparts. True to its name, there are breads, coffees, and teas, either separate or in sets.
There’s a roti French toast, which is French toast as we know it to be served with some butter and kaya jam, a truly wondrous coconut milk and egg-based substance that I could get high on. Kopi Roti also prides itself on its kopi bun, a large, airy roll with a smidgen of kaya jam in the center. If I was an ant, I’d be digging for days just to get to that pandan-flavored coco jam center, so sparse is it. But the bread is soft with a crumbly exterior and it satisfies when washed down with kopi.
Speaking of kopi, you simply shouldn’t eat at Kopi Roti and not have kopi. Brewed the traditional Singaporean way, ground coffee is passed through a sieve with boiling water onto a waiting layer of condensed milk, a play on color and texture. Other types of kopi are the Kopi C or Tea C, coffee or tea respectively, with evaporated milk. Kopi O or Tea O is black coffee or plain tea only. Here, tea is brewed the way it is in Singapore, filtered in a long cloth playfully known as sock or pantyhose tea. The milk tea here is what’s known as teh tarik, the process of transferring tea from one cup to another to create froth. All available drinks are also served iced, including iced tea and homemade barley.
What I always zero in on here is Set B: four pieces of roti kaya toast that comes with a pair of soft-boiled eggs and kopi. Thin slices of toasted brown bread are lightly smeared with kaya jam and butter. Eaten as is or dipped into the softly-boiled eggs, it’s a meal that comforts and soothes me. It’s what I had for breakfast two days in a row when I was at Ya Kun in Singapore, so there can be no other Malay morning meal for me than this. Of course there are differences in Kopi Roti and what I had in Singapore, but I won’t harp on them. When it comes to food, authenticity is something that tends to foster ever-higher standards of criticism and it makes people belittle the eating experience. There’s a time and place for comparisons, and a place where you can get a meal for less than P100 is not the place for it.
Some people might find the soft-boiled eggs a bit too uncooked at Kopi Roti, but I have no complaints. What I will complain about however is the fact that while Kopi Roti already has six branches in Manila, there is not a single one in Makati. But I willingly drive to Morato just to get my Kopi Roti fix. Even at 7:30 in the morning, there’s a whole parade of people dressed in everything from barongs to school uniforms, all bleary-eyed like me, all of us soft-boiled egg/kaya jam/kopi with condensed milk devotees. But open one in Makati already.
Tomas Morato, Q.C. 414-1754
Blue Ridge Ave., QC 439-1546
SM Mall of Asia (South Parking) 556-0213
NAIA Terminal 1 Arrival Area 879-5440
NAIA Departure Area Gate 5 &6 879-5436
NAIA Departure Area Gate 12 & 14 879-5438