Kawan, jom yumcha! The drinking and dining culture in Kluang

Kawan, jom yumcha! The drinking and dining culture in Kluang

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‘Ah moi, when are you free? Let’s go to yumcha and catch up!’
‘Sure la, no problem, I will meet you at the usual place’

Yes, as Kluang people, I was born with the yumcha (drinking tea) culture, like other Kluang people did. Although we said ‘yumcha’, we drink all the drinks, like ‘kopi-o’ (black coffee), ‘kopi-bing’ (ice-coffee), ‘kopi-gou’ (thickened coffee), ‘teh-o’ (blank tea, with no sugar added), ‘milo dinosaur’ (milo with a lot of milo powdered topping on it, trust me, you gonna love it) and so forth. We yumcha, all the time, in the morning, in the afternoon (especially 3pm!), during midnight. No matter what time is the time, you could always see Kluang people drinking coffee and makan roti (eat bread) at ‘kopitiam’ (coffee shop). It is almost one coffee shop on every street in Kluang, that’s how Kluang people love to drink tea.

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When the Hainan people learnt how to make coffee from the English men 60 years ago, the life of Kluang people had never been the same again. Kluang used to be a farming community. After a long day of working, the workers enjoyed drinking tea and eating bread as it was affordable. After some time, drinking tea had evolved from ‘desire’ to ‘wants’. We wouldn’t feel comfortable until we drink coffee or tea.

Where is the most famous coffee shop in Kluang? Kluang Rail Coffee! If you came to Kluang by train, you could smell coffee the moment you stepped down from the train (well, not at night). Whenever I told people I came from Kluang, they would response ‘ah, I knew the rail station coffee’. Kluang Rail Coffee started business in the 1930s and has branches across Malaysia due to its expanding business. It is easy to spot Paloh people who came from all the way from Paloh to Kluang by train to drink the coffee.

What’s so special about Kluang Rail Coffee? I’d said, coffee, of course. The coffee is made from home-grown coffee bean and hand-roasted. Traditional way of making the coffee always bring the nostalgic character in Kluang people. Once tried, you will never forget how it tasted. Kluang Rail Coffee also offers toasts and buns. Unlike the commercial coffee shop, the toasts or buns were grilled on charcoal. The toasts were spread with butter and kaya and it tasted heavenly good. The crispy surface, butter that melted on toasts, together with kaya, oh, how could you missed that? It also served half-boiled eggs and nasi lemak.

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Do come to kluang to experience the yumcha culture of Kluang people, you will be surprised how much we loved to drink tea Friends gathering? We yumcha. Talking business? We yumcha. Too free in the afternoon? We yumcha!

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How to go Kluang ?

By bus : From Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) to Kluang, approximately 3.5 hours, bus fare : RM 25 to RM 27, depends on the bus company.

By train : From KL sentral to Kluang, approximately 5 hours, train fare (seated) : RM 27.

/// Written by Yap Jia Wen, Malaysia