Kopi and Roti Kahwin

Jack Lim brewing Kluang Rail Coffee

A CUP of steaming kopi and toast with kaya – two good enough reasons to get up early and board the 9.20am Express Rakyat at the Johor Baru train station.  My destination: Kluang Railway Station Coffee Shop.

Rail travel is the main mode of transport for plantation and manufactured goods from Kluang’s rich hinterland to Johor Port and Port Klang, so a train ride was just right for my nostalgic trip to Kluang.

With only two short stops at Kempas Baru and Kulai, I travelled Superior Class in air-conditioned comfort to arrive promptly at Kluang Railway Station at 10.40am.

What’s Special

Kluang Railway Station Coffee Shop has been serving kopi and toast since 1939. Other than a minimal few improvements, the outlet looks exactly as it did when the Lim family first started the business.

Jack Lim with traditional kaya and Rail coffee

Jack Lim, a fourth generation Lim, practically grew up here. Now he runs this typical railway station café that time warps you back to another era the minute you step inside.

Whirring overhead fans and a light breeze blowing through wire-netted walls cooled the interior while I sat at one of the long formica-topped tables to enjoy my much anticipated Kluang treat.

Every morning, Lim brews and tastes the first cup of coffee himself before he serves customers. “I’ve been doing this the past 25 years,” he says.

The Recipes

“There’s just no compromise on quality,” explains Lim. The locally grown coffee beans are carefully selected and roasted strictly according to the family recipe.

Similarly, the rich, smooth kaya is prepared with the freshest ingredients using the family recipe.

Variety of toasted buns and half-boiled eggs,
nasi lemak and mee-hoon are breakfast staples

Most customers order roti kahwin, two slices of toast held together with melting butter and a generous spread of thick kaya. This is no ordinary toast. Slices of bread and buns are toasted to a golden crisp the traditional way – over a charcoal fire.

One can also order perfectly half-boiled eggs, nasi lemak or fried mee-hoon wrapped in banana leaves.

I was so ready for my roti kahwin that when my order of kopi “kurang manis” (less sweet hot coffee) and toast arrived, I wasted no time in sinking my teeth into the crisp toast. As melting chunks of butter mingled with kaya oozed out, I knew that my trip was worth every chug of the train.

Getting There

Take a drive along the scenic route from Johor Baru or via the North-South Highway and exit at Air Hitam toll to Kluang town or by rail to reach this little kopi-tiam.

How Much

Set aside RM28 for return train fare and to purchase Kluang Rail Coffee powder at RM8 a pack and kaya at RM3.50 a tumbler.

Opening Hours

Open daily from 6.30am to 12.30pm and from 2.30pm to 6pm. Closed on Thursdays. Lunch is not served.

This article was first published in The New Straits Times, Travel Times on 30 May 2006

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