Ask any local where to get good old Hainanese coffee in Georgetown, Penang, I’m sure he or she will likely point you to Toh Soon Cafe which is just two streets away from the famous Line Clear Nasi Kandar and is located in a back alley off Lebuh Campbell.
It was a late afternoon on a working day but it was still difficult to get a table because the cafe was just packed with customers whiling away time with a cuppa in hand.
One of the most unique features of this cafe is this oil drum that has been repurposed as a charcoal stove and oven that can steam bread on top and grill bread below. I kinda felt sorry for this guy who had to squat there for ages just making sure the bread was nicely toasted. It’s a very tedious process especially when you can only put in a few slices of bread at a time (and imagine there are so many customers ordering toasts) so I really salute Toh Soon Cafe for keeping such a tradition alive which definitely is not something common in other coffee shops.
This was perhaps one of the better coffees I ever had by far. Dark, strong, aromatic and smooth. 苦中带香！It doesn’t leave behind any bitter or acidic aftertaste. If I need a good coffee to start the day, it has to be something like this!
As for the kaya butter toast, well, sad to say, they were quite ordinary even though they were toasted by hand using charcoal fire. Even if there was any subtle smoky flavour, it was probably already masked by the kaya and butter.
For 2 kopi and 1 kaya butter toast, we paid RM5.20 which was very reasonably priced.
Sipping coffee by the drain in a back alley and watching cups of coffee and tea being served as patrons come and go is quite a nostalgic moment for me. You just have to come to Toh Soon to experience it yourself. 🙂
Toh Soon Cafe
Georgetown, 10200 Pulau Pinang
Opening hours: 8.00am to 6.00pm (Mon-Sat)