Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Kopi-O satu!

Kopi-o satu! Posted by Hello

Glasses lined orderly at a coffeeshop, Sungai Lembing, Pahang, 2004.

Sitting down at the coffee shop is always a treat. My young life was full of memories following my dad to get the morning breakfast. There was a great 'kon loh mee' (long noodles with black soy sauce and assorted toppings) stall in Kuantan and my dad's favourite meal was to ask for a plate with 'tong ku' (mushrooms) and 'kai keok' (chicken feet), me I went with a safer and more palatable portion of 'pak cham kai' (white steamed chicken) and 'char siu' (barbequed meat). I wasn't allowed by my mum to drink coffee when I was in primary school and breakfast would see a cup of ready made Sustagen on the table but on this occasion with my dad I was given the privalge to go ahead and have anything I want. Thus taking this golden opportunity, I'll shout "Kopi peng satu".

I'll look intently while the man in his apron was preparing the concotion, steam all billowing around him as he slave at the drink counter with a thousand and one items surrounding him. With deft hands he'll pick up a cup, selecting the appropriate one for the appropriate drink, a plastic elongated drinking glass in this case for my kopi peng, and without batting an eyelid and reflexs from years of practice, spoon in the correct amount of coffee powder, sugar and condensed milk into the glass. Another swish of the hand and with his metal scooper, plunges into the ever boiling cauldron, emerging with a scoop of water, dumps the lot into the cup and soon the mixture of ingredients churns and settles into the thick flavoured brew I crave for. A drink stall's workstation is a sight indeed, rows and rows of glasses filling the wall, various brews ready to be mixed together, boiling pot and ice tray. The man/woman manning it too can be a study, some are neat others would make you cringe wondering what other 'extras' are ending up into your cup while in the preparation process.

Thus is was a treat to be able to sit at the humble table, stained with the spillage of past patrons, utensils packed together in their holder, a bowl of steaming water to immerse and wash the utensils, rickety chairs that threatens to collapse under my weight and the coarse auntie that kept on spitting out a deluge of Cantonese thick and fast my way, "Oi yam mei ah?" (What do you want to have for a drink?). The 'kon loh mee' sold here at Sungai Lembing is one of the better ones I've had and again drinking the glass of coffee in such a place transports me back to my younger self, soon this scene may no longer be seen anymore as coffeeshops are going the way of food courts and Starbucks. But as I sit there, sipping the strong brew, alls that was forgotten, at least for a moment. Sigh also I miss having 90 cents kopi as drinks in Kk costs RM1.50 a cup.

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