A Taste of History at Kafé Old Market Square
Kuala Lumpur’s humble beginning dates back to the 1850s when tin was discovered at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak Rivers at the exact spot where Kuala Lumpur’s oldest mosque, the Masjid Jamek (Jamek Mosque) is located. As a capital city of a country, Kuala Lumpur which means ‘muddy estuary’ definitely did not have the glamourous history of many other world capitals. Kuala Lumpur was built practically on blood, sweat, tears, and hopes of the people living there and those who migrated there from other parts of the country and elsewhere.
Just right next to the river there is an old market square. It is right in front of the Avenue J Hotel and Malaysian Bar Council. Right at the corner is an old coffee shop I used to walk pass called Sin Seng Nam, which began operation since 1928 by a Hainanese immigrant Choong Yoo Ting and his brothers. It was where civil servants, judges, lawyers and people from all walks of life, and further back in history, miners and gamblers came to have a good meal.
Sin Seng Nam was popular as it wasn’t just a place to savour a favourite brew. It was a place to meet friends, conduct business, relax and enjoy life.
However, after 85 years, Sin Seng Nam closed down in mid 2013 to the disappointment of its loyal customers. It was just a matter of time since time had taken its toll on the building and extensive refurbishment was required to restore this 100 year old heritage building to its former glory.
Then in April 2014, the colonial-style, three-story corner shoplot was reopened as Kafé Old Market Square. Datuk Ghani Abdullah, the new owner, had it painstakingly restored as a kopitiam as he wanted to be reminded of the past, having first went there 30 odd years ago as a young lawyer.
I was there for a hearty breakfast with my AboutKL blogger/ social media influencer friends and we got to try out the yummy dishes there.
Kafé Old Market Square serves a great Malaysian local breakfast of Hainanese coffee, soft-boiled eggs and kaya toast the same way it did over 80 years ago.
It also serves a pretty yummy Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng Rempah (coconut rice and nicely fried spiced chicken), Yong Tau Foo, Mee Rebus and delicious Rojak Pasembur with Squid. Do try out the Meehoon Mee Hailam too!
You can choose to order the food as a set and if you order it online via the amaxmall, you will get a discount.
I really love historical places the most and being in a place like this. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling of being able to step back into time and a sense of contentment and pride even more when it is in my own country.
Datuk Ghani has done the place great justice. The original wall tiles and mosaic floors have been scrubbed clean, antique pictures/ photographs tastefully hung on the walls and the 2nd floor got turned into a spacious gallery space.
If you come to Kafé Old Market Square, be sure to admire the fine Dutch gables, yellow shutters and high glassless windows of the building, I heard it is one of three shophouses built by tin magnate Loke Yew back in 1906.
We had our breakfast on the first floor which is for customers who prefer some privacy and quiet moments.
Kafe Old Market Square is also pretty ideal for private functions.
For more info, be sure to check out http://cafeoldmarketsquare.com