Although Los Angeles is home to some of the best and most diverse Asian cuisines in the U.S., Malaysian and Singaporean options have been somewhat underrepresented. That changes today when Ipoh Kopitiam, a new Malaysian and Singaporean cafe, opens in Alhambra at the corner of Garfield and Valley Boulevard. Even in the San Gabriel Valley, which is home to Southern California’s most populous Asian American community, the handful of Malaysian restaurants that were popular in the area like Yazmin and Penang shuttered years ago. However during the pandemic, Malaysian and Singaporean home cooks began privately selling meals from their homes.
Ipoh Kopitiam is helmed by chef Kenji Tang, who hails from Ipoh, Malaysia. Tang, whose family has been in the catering business for several generations, was previously making Malaysian and Singaporean home cooked meals to much fanfare in Chinese language social media posts. The cafe takes over the former Scala Stonegrill and Cinya Cafe in Regent Plaza in Alhambra, a location that has constantly changed ownership over the years.
A kopitiam is an old-school coffee shop that can be found all throughout Singapore and Malaysia that also serves affordable meals. Ipoh is known for its white coffee, which was created by Hainanese immigrants who settled in the city that were unhappy with the Western-style coffee the British brought to Malaysia. The word kopitiam derives from kopi, the Malay word for coffee, and tiam, which is the Fukienese word for shop. Unlike its name, Ipoh white coffee is actually a tan color made up of a blend of robusta, liberica, and arabica beans slow-roasted in margarine before being ground and brewed, and then topped with sweetened condensed milk.
The opening menu includes many Singaporean and Malaysian favorites like kaya (sweet coconut milk jam) toast, Hainan chicken, roti canai (Indian-style flatbread), beef rendang (Malaysian beef stew made with beef, spices and coconut milk), and even dry wonton noodles. Bak kut teh, which is a time-consuming preparation of herbal pork rib soup, will also be on the menu. Char kway teow, a stir fried Chinese-inspired rice noodles, chicken flavored rice, and coconut rice is another featured menu item.
Due to staffing issues, Ipoh Kopitiam will only be open to half capacity for dine-in, though it will also accept online takeout orders. The menu will also be limited during the first few weeks of opening, with plans to expand eventually. Ipoh is open everyday except for Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Check out the opening menu below: