Note: text in italics indicate it’s written in Singlish (“Singaporean” English)
Just when I was lamenting about the lack of comfort Singapore-style food in Melbourne, the Killiney franchise upped and opened a branch in Carlton (aka student-ville). And three guesses who gave me the heads-up about this place?
Well… fakegf, of course! Ha ha!! I got really excited when I first read her text, all I could think of was “waaah… kaya toast with kopi and kueh neng at last!!“.
Actually, I don’t really visit Killiney Kopitiam back in Singapore. I tend to stick to hawker centres back home and avoid multi-branch franchises (with the exception of Ya Kun Kaya Toast). But over here, Killiney feels like an oasis of hawker food Singapore-style! And judging by how packed it always appears to be, I sense that it strums a similar chord amongst many Singaporeans living in Melbourne.
Anyway, since I’m Singaporean and Killiney comes from Singapore, what better person to
bitch decide whether the food here’s authentic other than myself? Hah! And have you heard of the rumour about Malaysian/Singaporean restaurants lifting their very foundations off the ground (like skirts) and running for the hills when they hear that Fatboo is about to pay a visit? Lol… yes I can be quite nit-picky when it comes to food from my country of birth.
Killiney Kaya Toast Set $5.50
I first came here with fellow food blogger Winston, where we had a quick lunch whilst psyching ourselves up for a public Food Bloggers’ Q&A session at a Fiesta Malaysia event in Argyle Square. That Q&A actually compelled me to write up a post titled “Singapore Cuisine, and Fusion in Australia“. Within the context of this post, it may bear quite a lot of relevance here.
That aside, the main reason why I really wanted to eat at Killiney is for the above dish, which you could say is my personal “Breakfast of Champions”. Namely, kaya toast (coconut jam) with kopi (traditional brewed white coffee) and two half-boiled eggs. Priced at $5.50 with coffee included, this could well be the cheapest brunch available in Melbourne ever. The kopi tasted roasty and rich, with hints of toast and corn. Just the way I like it… and be sure to stir it, because all the condensed milk is at the bottom!
I didn’t mind the kaya toast pieces, and one thing different here was how the half-boiled eggs came out already pre-cracked on a plate for you. In Singapore, you’d be given the whole eggs to crack onto a plate yourself, which is a ritual I enjoy doing. Add a dash of pepper and a few drops of dark soya sauce, and your eggs are ready to be eaten. I showed Winston (who’s from Malaysia) how I’d dip the toast into the egg mixture before eating it, and he told me his eyes lit up when he tasted that combination!
Singapore Laksa $8.50 – Mixed noodles served w boiled egg, fried fish cake, chicken, fried bean curd, bean shoots, fried shallots and spring onion in a secret blend of spices in rich and creamy coconut gravy
Winston went with the laksa, which I’ll have to say shouldn’t be called ‘Singapore Laksa’ if they’re using egg noodles and thin rice vermicelli, because that’s more Malaysian style noodles. Singaporean laksa uses thick rice vermicelli (chu mi fen), which is very similar to the noodle type used in Vietnamese bún bò huế soup. The broth was on the thicker, richer side and the noodles were a touch over-cooked. That said, I thought this laksa was still somewhat authentic in that I could actually taste the uplifting flavour of laksa leaves scattered over the broth.
I paid Killiney Kopitiam a revisit a few weeks down the track, this time with fakegf and big-scary-dSLR in tow. It was Easter Saturday, and boy was the place packed!
Killiney ‘Cham’ $3 / Iced Teh Tarik $3.30
I don’t think this drink is all that Singaporean actually. Better known as Yuanyang, a popular beverage in Hong Kong, Killiney’s ‘Cham’ is a mixture of coffee with white tea (‘cham’ is actually Hokkien for the word ‘mixed’). Fakegf’s family background is Cantonese and she has roots in Hong Kong, so she’s more familiar with this drink. She loved it, saying “it’s good, don’t worry it’s not cham“. LOL! Only Singaporeans will know what the second meaning for ‘cham’ is.
I also enjoyed my iced teh tarik, which is a type of pulled milk tea, frothed by repeatedly pouring the tea between two jugs from a big height difference. It was very sweet though. One thing you should know about these milk tea drinks is how the tea is often brewed so strong that it tends to taste very tannic. That’s the way we’ve grown up drinking and enjoying it. But it might be something that some of you find hard to appreciate.
Killiney Nasi Lemak w Curry Chicken $8.80 – Coconut rice served w egg, curry chicken, sambal chilli, fried anchovies, peanut and sliced cucumber
Wow, that’s a lot of food for less than 9 bucks. I’d normally choose fried fish or fried chicken to go with my nasi lemak (which are available options on the menu), but fakegf had curry cravings. She tucked into this and exclaimed “it’s good… at last!”. We liked how the sambal wasn’t overly sweet, and I liked how the rice was just lightly coconutty with a hint of saltiness to it. And the ikan bilis (Malay: anchovies) were very crispy. I must say the curry also tasted very ‘Singapore’ too, in that it’s not as thick, less sweet, with a strong powdery punch of spices.
Killiney Mee Siam $8.30 – Vermicelli w boiled egg, dried bean curd in a wonderful combination of sweet and tangy light gravy
This is one dish you don’t normally see in Melbourne, even at Malaysian eateries. I had to try it. Killiney’s mee siam was on the sweet side, and the gravy was quite thick and oily. Fakegf did not like its sweetness, while I decided to cope with it and concentrated on enjoying how the rice vermicelli had a nice, firm bite to it. There were a few missing elements here: mee siam back home normally comes with half a lime for you to squeeze, a dollop of sambal on the side of the plate, and sometimes a few slices of small prawn. Still, this mee siam tasted close enough to what I remember back home.
So what’s my verdict? I think I’ll be back. There are quite a few more ‘traditional’ comfort dishes that I’d like to sample there, and the tweaking so far hasn’t gone into the realm of ‘unacceptable fusion’. If anything else, I’d just come back for the kaya toast + soft boiled eggs. I’m also secretly hoping they’ll make Singapore-style chee cheong fun (steamed rice noodle rolls with sesame seeds and sweet sauce), but I suspect that’s probably too fiddly a dish to justify adding to the menu.
The dishes here are very affordably priced by Melbourne standards. And seeing how busy this place always seems to be, I think Killiney has the capacity to expand into other suburbs. Currently, we have to fight with all the Singaporean uncles and aunties to get a table. Lol… feels like back home!
Put packet tissue to chope table can? I think hor… the next branch needs to be more bigger. :p
You might also be interested in reading a couple of Singapore food posts I’ve previously written: Singapore Laksa Story Breakfast Singapore Part 1 (covers Kaya Toast) Breakfast Singapore Part 2 (covers Mee Siam) Nasi Lemak