The Sun (Malaysia)
Time for a break
> It’s part of our culture to stop and have a drink or bite to eat at all hours of the day, and even late at night
IF THERE is one common thing that ties Malaysians of all races together, it is food. And by extention, drinks, too. We are so lucky because we have so many choices. Besides Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines, there are also food and drinks from other minority as well as international groups.
Malaysia also has a strong coffee-drinking culture. The average Malaysian is said to consume about 2.5 cups of coffee per day.
This coffee-drinking culture started in the early days of the Chinese kopitiams or coffee shops, usually operated by Hainanese Chinese, that served freshlybrewed coffee.
These traditional coffee shops still exist today in the nation’s smaller towns and villages.
A few can still be found in the city centre in the vicinity of Petaling Street, or better known as Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown.
The local coffee-drinking culture has since grown to encompass the western cafe culture with international brands like Starbucks offering a variety of coffee beans from other climes which are brewed and served European or American style.
Even domestic brands such as Old Town White Coffee have gone up-market while still serving the same local coffee brew and food to cater to the younger crowd of coffee drinkers.
The growing affluent lifestyle of urban Malaysians has also contributed to the boom in the local coffee industry with a proliferation of coffeehouses that not only offer coffee of various brands but also free WiFi and a clean, conducive environment for people to relax over a cuppa as well as socialise or catch up on a bit of work.
These places also double as a meeting point for many of the city’s young upwardly mobile professionals either for leisure or work.
Even the older generation has now taken to visiting such cafes and bistros for a cup of coffee or tea and a snack or two. In recent years, you can find people going to ‘yum cha’, which literally means to drink tea or take a break, at all hours of the day, and even late at night at roadside stalls, food courts and 24-hour restaurants serving both drinks and food till the wee hours of the morning.
Malaysia’s yum cha culture is one of the more fascinating aspects of local lifestyle for tourists who are here for the first time.
For those who remain in the country long enough, they soon are happily joining the locals to enjoy the multitude of food and drinks available here.
Don’t be surprised that before long, these visitors will find that the yum cha culture has become just as much a part of their lifestyle here in Malaysia.