Hi there! I'm Sammie, a Malaysian who's a lover of unicorns, bargains and adventures.
Published April 1st 2013
Kopi Tim is Adelaide's Malaysian coffee shop
A craving for good Malaysian food led me and a group of friends to Kopi Tim, a place that's been around for a few years and dishes out authentic Malaysian cuisine. Kopi Tim seems to be a play on words on kopitiam, which translates into coffee shop in English. It's a place commonly frequented by locals in Southeast Asia for meals and drinks. As the people in my group were in dire need of food, we headed down Gouger St, past the main area of Chinatown and into Kopi Tim.
My first impressions of the place were, well, less than stellar. The entrance itself is unwelcoming; we weren't even sure whether it was open due to the poor lighting outside. The moment you step into Kopi Tim, you are greeted to this scene:
The questionable interior decoration continues once you've reached the main dining area of the restaurant. I was beginning to have second thoughts about eating at Kopi Tim but the perseverance of my friends' hunger and my own kept us at our table.
The lighting changed in a different section; the white light gave way to a more pleasant yellow. I was a bit confused by the inconsistency in the design though. The ambience of the restaurant was a huge turn-off but the prospect of good food made me a patient diner. A waitress unceremoniously dumped the menus on our table and walked away without a word after we took our seats at the table. The service is as welcoming as the decor it would seem. The contents of the menu were a more pleasant sight as they did have many Malaysian dishes that can't be found anywhere else in Adelaide. We ordered a few dishes to share with rice for the table.
The Ayam Kadazan (ayam is chicken in Malay and Kadazan are an ethnic group in Eastern Malaysia) was mouth-watering. It consists of chicken marinated in the chef's special spices and deep fried to palatable perfection. It was so crispy on the outside and so tender and juicy on the inside. My table quickly snapped it up till there were only bones left.
The kangkung belacan was the vegetable dish we decided on for the night. It's an extremely popular veggie dish in Malaysia and I was really eager to dig into it. I was a little disappointed that the belacan, or shrimp paste, wasn't spicy enough. It didn't have enough of a kick in my opinion. I would say that this dish was passable, but not a true homage to the real dish back in Malaysia.
The star of the night's meal was definitely the pork ribs. Glazed in a rich savoury sauce, the pork ribs were cooked tenderly to meaty, juicy perfection. The sauce was thick enough to properly coat the ribs and was just oozing with flavour. I was a little sad to see how quickly my group attacked the ribs because that meant there would be less for me, excuse my selfishness.
I really love cockles, and I love them even more when eating them Malay-style. The cockles were stir fried and served with a generous layer of the chef's special chilli sauce. Had you been eating this in Malaysia, it would have been really, really spicy. In Kopitim, the chilli was toned down a notch but it was still really delicious. The shellfish and the sauce both combined well and were absolutely flavourful. My only negative comment about this dish was that the sauce might have been a tad too salty.
I like how you're able to order chicken rice instead of just ordinary steamed rice in Kopitim. The chicken rice is aromatic rice cooked in chicken stock and the taste is just absolutely flavourful. Even though rice is meant to be a companion to the main dishes, I'd gladly just eat chicken rice by itself.
The mee goreng (literally fried noodles), was quite authentic. It consists of egg noodles fried with prawn, bean curd, egg and vegetables in a chilli tomato sauce. I must say, the portion was huge; it was enough for everybody at the table to have their share and more.
I'd say that Kopi Tim is a good place to get authentic Malaysian food (try the dishes with a star next to them on the menu) but it has one of the worst atmospheres ever. The service could use an improvement as well. The prices aren't too steep with an average of about $17 a dish. I'd recommend people come here in a group so that you can order several dishes to try and also to share the bill to make it a more affordable dinner. Whenever I get a craving for Malaysian food again, I'll definitely come back and try the other dishes.
Been there couple of times but honestly, I keep telling myself NOT to go back after I've paid for the meals afterwards.
The lady boss wasn't very friendly and it would took ages for any staff to come to our table for orders.
Only when my cravings for malaysian curry and spice becomes uncontrollable then I'll bother!