Kopi, a Hokkien Chinese term derived from the English word “coffee,” is used up and down the Malay Peninsular to mean either coffee or coffee shop. Kopi de Phuket is the brainchild of Jakkapan Jitsomboon who opened the first Kopi de Phuket – an internet café – in the premises of the historic On-On hotel in Pang Nga Road.
The second Kopi de Phuket, opened eight years ago, is more spacious and offers more dining choices. This one-up-one-down establishment has been refurbished in the style of ‘contemporary Chinese,’ whose props include paper lanterns, hardwood chairs and marble-topped tables.
A few padded and cushioned sofas fill the small downstairs room, made cozy by the dark wood wall shelf and counter lined with an array of cookie jars and tea canisters. Upstairs is a little more spacious with larger tables which are enough for a party of six or more.
Judging from the menu, which offers a variety of one-dish meals (salmon fillet with rice, roti with Indian curry, noodles in herb soup, noodles with Yunan ham) the place seems to cater to luncheon affairs. The menu has strong Chinese overtones, but Jakkapan includes many pub-style dishes, such as fish and chips and a few salad plates, to please all types of palates.
We try monk fish with lemongrass slices and love its tangy tamarind sauce. Fish on its own can be… er, fishy, and the pungent lemongrass is traditionally used to counter that effect.
Crispy bacon adds a slight smoky taste to stir-fried kale, making this dish a real comfort food. We also order gian, (a deep-fried local sausage of minced pork and mushroom) and prawns with basil leaves which get a thumbs up from our Thai friends for the choice of fresh succulent prawns and the copious amount of chili used.
A friend wants to go her separate healthy way and orders a fillet of salmon with jasmine rice and is happy with the large helping of fish. Perfect for this figure-conscious lady.
To round up the meal, you really must try the gems of the establishment – its hot and cold beverages. Apart from the usual variety of brew coffee, Kopi de Phuket offers old-style blends (combining Robusta and Arabica beans) in three concoctions: black; with condensed milk; and mixed with an equal amount of tea. This last drink takes the Chinese yin-yang concept and applies it to food: coffee, which has strong yang energy, is counter-balanced by the softer more feminine yin of the tea.
Kopi de Phuket is also famous for its selection of local cakes and cookies. We highly recommend the delicately spiced pepper cake and slightly savory sai gai, literally ‘chicken entrails’, which is really a deep-fried thin coil of pastry.
The overall verdict is: good, tasty food and quick service even during the busy lunch hours. The price is also reasonable. Our lunch works out around 300 baht each including coffee and cakes.
As an additional note, you may want to engage the services of the resident fortuneteller who will be here until 30 September. At 500 baht, she will feed your birth date into her laptop and map out your fortune for the next 12 months. Rumor has it that she is very good.
— Nanthapa Pengkasem
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