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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Toast of the town in Kluang

When in Kluang, you don't have to go all the way to the Railway Station for a taste of its famous kopi, kaya toast and other signature items

“Do beh chia mea?” i was puzzled by this question on the litlte menu. After asking for a translation, I learned that it's Hokkien dialect for “What would you like to eat?"

My eager but silent reply was "everyihing". But I politely settled for a little of everything instead. It's hard to resist the classic kopi, kaya toast and every other specialty at Kluaog Rail Cafe, a new branch of the famous Kluang's Railway Station Coffee Shop that has been whipping up the goodies for 68 years!


Just Like The Rail Thing

It's obvious that "racial segregation" is unheard of here. Coffee shops such as this are still places where friends of every race swap stories or seal business deals over cups of coffee.

Chinese, Malay and Indian youths, office workers and families and even Europeans employed by multinational companies in Kluang and gatu Rahat are frequent patrons who appreciate the cafe's ambience and array of food. Some are such regulars that they order without looking at the menu.

Jack Lim, a fourth generation tim of Kluang's Railway Station Coffee Shop, has taken over a corner shop in Kluang new town, turning it into the "Toast Of the Town".

Its nostalgic railway theme and decor is keeping in line with the "rail tradition" of the original coffeeshop that operates at the Kluang Railway Station.

There are wooden tables, stools and plank waits with wire-net windows and lots of natural light, but in air-conditioned comfort. Pointing upwards, Jack proudly drew my attention to double railway tracks suspended from the ceiling!

As i lingered over my cup of aromatic Kluang Rail coffee, I watched Jack exchange greetings with familiar customers Two obviously good friends studying the menu and discussing choices, made a pretty picture of what it meant to be truly Malaysian. Heads close together, the Chinese lady's cudy head nodded in agreement with the Malay lady whose head was covered by a modest pink tudung!

The affable jack said: "People are just comfortable here, sitting and eating together." The right mix of trendy ambience, mouthwateriog menu and fair prices is clearly bringing people back for more.


What's Special

From toast and sandwiches to noodles and rice, there are choices of Eastern and Western favourites to suit every taste.

For me, roti khowJn (with kaffwin spelt the old way) was simply irresistible. Melting butter and kaya oozed out from charcoal-toasted slices of bread and buns, served in white and wholemeal choices. It's the perfect "marriage" of butter and kaya in a combination that titillates, bite alter bite.

Served on greaseproof paper, nasi lemak and mee siam were fond favourites while spity mee rebus and curry noodles looked equally yummy. I savoured Rail Sandwiches made of mantou (plain pau) filled with sardine, tuna or sambal ikan bilis with crispy cucumber and pungent ordon slices.

I was glad I saved some space for a superb sweet ending, a rich blend of creamy coffee with Milo and vanilla flavours in the cool Railway Float and a wedge of Rail Chocolam Brownie topped with vanilla ice-cream.


How To Get There

Kluaog Rail Cafe is located at No. 33, Jalan Mangeggis and open daily from 7am to 10pm. Closed on Mondays, You can reach Kluang either by rail or by road on the scenic route from Johor Baru or via the North-South Highway and exit at Air Hitam toll to Kluang town.