Kedai Kopi Hai Peng @Chukai, Kemaman – Terengganu A-Go-Go


Hai Peng Restaurant, Chukai. During a work trip to the Tanjung Jara Resort, I stopped by Chukai, the popular bustling town of Terengganu – I couldn’t help but think… “Then and Now”.

A quick web search mentions the town as a former taxing center, during the colonial days, for floating vessels using the Kemaman River and hence, its name derivative, Chukai. I haven’t stopped by this bustling small town for at least 5 years. It has gotten busier… many new buildings have sprung up with vibrant wall colors and patriotic banners and lighting. You know a small town has caught up with modern times when two way lanes become a single lane traffic to ease congestion and you have to pay for parking!!!

It was morning and I had spare time to catch a little breakfast…hmmm, why not at the overly hyped up Hai Peng coffee shop, since I didn’t have time to wander around on foot to uncover new joints. I was also considering that Hainanese Chicken Rice place but didn’t think they were open just yet. (the story continues below , see “The Returning”).

The parking system was new to me. Just opposite Hai Peng building, the parking meter serving the area requires the driver to punch the number found on the parking spot before dropping in coins. Needless to say, this big city chimp didn’t know how to work the Terengganu ‘thing’ and started doing the KL ‘thing’ by punching the number plates then putting in coins…. I think I must have donated to half a dozen parking meters before realising the correct way to do things. (chimps don’t read the instructions listed!).
I’m not a big coffee drinker nor a small coffee drinker since caffeine (especially of the gourmet variety) keeps me up till the wee hours of the morning. Oh, what the heck! Since I’ve got to post something on the famous Hai Peng coffee, I called for a cup of ‘Kopi-Ping’ (iced coffee with condensed milk) and selected a pre-packed nasi dagang from a platter of snacks and breakfast food in the center of the shop.



The nasi dagang was very tasty with 2 slices of fish (mackerel variety??) topped with fish curry. The glutinous rice was well formed, chewy but not mushy.



This place was jumping! (to lend a chimp term) All walks of life filled the seating area. Malays, Chinese, Indians dan ‘lain-lain’ were soaking up the atmosphere at 10am (don’t they work…?).

The iced coffee came in a transparent plastic cup secured with a branded plastic wrap on top. Very new age. They must be exporting these ice coffees somewhere. The taste? Not bad. Smoother than your regular kopitiam coffee without the sourness that’s sometimes evident from strange brews or roasting ingredients.

Hmm.. I wonder how much of these roasts are part of its secret brew? If there was anything to complain about, it was the pricing. For this ice coffee and prepacked nasi dagang, it was a staggering RM4.50! In KL, you could have your favourite Ramli Burger and a can of coke with spare change left over.
Why so expensive? The rich folk tagged to the petroleum rich state? There wasn’t any air-conditioning, portions were small and the family probably owns the entire 3-story building (they probably collect good rental too).

MSG: low (a general assumption, since I didn’t eat the other stuff)
Ambiance: 5/10
Price: high side
Nostalgia: 6/10 – (a bit too modern/commercialized a setting. The cashier area had stacks of food stuff glaring at you to purchase)


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The Returning..

Upon my return, I drove along Dungun beach to check out the lovely scene (ideally, it would have been in a Ford Mustang convertible, any year – for effect that is…;P). There were snack shacks peppering the beach road. Some bright pink, some shanty. No blaring sound systems or modified mufflers or screaming children. Just a pretty, scenic drive in cool, slightly overcast weather.

Then there were these blue Tong Sampahs/Dustbins standing upright in an otherwise ordinary day.



A shack with a Lempeng sign caught my eye. Ciki had written about that nice Lempeng served at Haslam’s KL,(near Tawakal Hospital KL) and I wanted to check out the one here. Sadly, it was a different type of Lempeng – flour and desiccated coconut eaten with overnight (overweek?) curry (pretty yucky) – after 2 bites I reached for the bottle of saccharine sweet, tangy, ‘Made in Terengganu Chilli Sauce’ instead. It was much better than any chilli sauce I’ve eaten in KL (Oh yeah, east coast baby!). To wash it down, I ordered air Nyiur/Coconut water. I regretted not asking them to serve it kosong/without sugar. It was too sweet and watered down. What happen to all that freshness and in abundance, of Kampung food?Back on the road, I passed by the newly opened Mesra Mall on the way back to Chukai.Friday is East Coast’s break day and it’s eagerly commemorated by the Mat Rempits revving up wild, in the big town (that is Chukai). It’s like TOOO FAST TOOO D*MN FURIOUS TERENGGANU HEAT! ..minus the pounding ghetto beats, designer clad macho muscle men/punks or scantily clad hotties.. just your ordinary kedai bengkel/mechanic, factory worker, office/bank clerk and odd job worker living their extra-ordinary lives. You could see different clusters of gangs along the stretch of the main road checking out the competition’s whine & grind. It would have done justice to this write up with an illustrated picture but you just have to trust my descriptive words.As I needed petrol, I drove into the town and since I was in town I thought I’d stop by the Hainanese chicken rice restaurant, Kim Wah which I felt was one of the best chicken rice I’d ever tasted, almost ten years ago. The amazing thing is that it’s halal too.



“Back in the day” I had visited this coffee shop, in the Ramadhan month seeking a better and more affordable lunch than my over-priced hotel. Most eateries were closed except Kintowah/ Kim Wah Restaurant (We returned the following night for that other famous stuffed crab & lobsters restaurant, but that’s another story altogether). Anyway, just my luck – the shop was closed and I couldn’t validate whether the quality and taste was just as good as the first time. It’s odd that to date, I haven’t found any other blog/flog expounding the good taste offered at this shop. Well, if anyone decides to swing by, do try it and tell us if Kintowah chickens are still as yummy.. We would really love to know!

THE END

*This Roadtrip was experienced and written by CUMI… the masculine half of Cumi&Ciki.  Please also see www.whoa-adventures.com for more information on tourism in Malaysia.

Comments

  1. Julian Si says:

    Dunno why we always stop at Hai Peng, I am NOT a big fan of the food, nor even the coffee there … but there seems to be some nostalgic allure abt the place!

    Maybe it is because of the red-big-haired boss lady who always amuses us!

    ps – The parking “high-tech” it may seem ALWAYS manages to confuse!

  2. we are sorry about your misadventures in the taxing town , filled with square zorro masks and terrible parking machines.

    next time we must come along for some much needed pleasant diversions

  3. Big Boys Oven says:

    A year ago, I explored terengganu, it was fantastic, food was cheaper at kuala selangor town, just love nasi dagang and the crackers! happy to be back!

  4. boo_licious says:

    Been ages since I went this area – heard comments from friends that food is not great at Hai Peng anymore. sigh! I hate all this development – kinda kills food stds and the tranquil towns.

  5. worldwindows says:

    Innocence lost! Getting some mileage from the publicity that went unabated since more than 10 years ago. I remembered Star did a big write-up on them in Section 2 in 1998 or 99.

  6. Life for Beginners says:

    The lempeng looks food! And it’s always nice to hit the quiet trails of yesteryear, no? :)

  7. CUMI & CIKI says:

    julian:
    think the boss lady has changed the color of her hair since she got victoria beckham’s stylist(with the wealth they have created..!)

    bsg:
    the parking machines must be owned by Hai Peng.. !

    bbo:
    it’s still cheap and good.. except for Hai Peng

    boo:
    based on the turn out, the patrons (in their pagoda t-shirts) must be closing million dollar deals, over that morning cuppa coffee!

    wwindows:
    wow! that’s like the last time we were there for chicken rice.. in the 90’s. Do you remember how much the coffee was then?

  8. CUMI & CIKI says:

    lfb:
    …until you find out how ‘newly’ expensive it is today

  9. Nic (KHKL) says:

    yeah, now i’m very much interested to read about kin wah’s halal chicken rice!! nice one, dude!

    good meeting ya too, last saturday! din get to talk to much to ya. well, there’s always next time!

  10. "Joe" who is constantly craving says:

    haha i read the article just after talking to cumi and his intolerance for caffeine in gourmet coffees..then wondering if ciki had the same thing..only to realise that cumi wrote this..haha..

  11. CUMI & CIKI says:

    nic:
    nice to meet you too dude.. there will be christmas parties, i am sure!

    joe:
    (Ciki) R u kidding, i am a coffee addict! Cumi is hopeless ler.. lol.. he’ll be bouncing off the walls for the next 2 days if he drinks hardcore strong coffee

  12. can’t remember the last time I was in Terengganu… at least 5 years or more. :P

    i still wanna try hai peng though.. :)

  13. Tummythoz says:

    Somehow like julian si mentioned, Hai Peng seems to have a certain irrisistible magnetic power to draw crowds at any time of the day. Though so pricey.

  14. aiya … RM4.50 only ma. expected since Hai Peng has garnered so much fanfare over the years.
    featured in tv shows some more.

    the toasts ok ah?

  15. tongkol, isnt it? the mackerel they serve with nasi dagang… actually, i thought its bonito tuna…
    i’m quite impressed with their illusion of hygienicness, by sealing the plastic cups of ice coffee…very the high tech….
    i lurve the stuffed crab in cukai…..

    oooh, i didnt know cumi also writes…how romantic.

  16. CUMI & CIKI says:

    jasmine:
    it’s time to try the chicken rice!

    tummythoz:
    The mat rempits share the same thoughts as you and Julian Si.. hehe

    j2kfm:
    next time u buy la..big spender.. lol

    fbb:
    u were wrong… it’s ‘tuna romantica robust-busta’… my phat friend… only found during the season… i was there…