Sometimes, it’s great to dine in where no one else would ever take a second look at when passing by the place. Who knows you might just stumble upon another hidden food treasures of Penang. Located within the heritage stretch along Church Street Ghaut (Gat Lebuh Gereja) right under a big huge tree, is a little shed, that had been pepping up delicious meals for those office workers around that area for many years. The place looked like it has been worn out through time but no one could have imagined that such a place would churn out meals that got many loyal customers coming back for more. Commonly known as Under the Big Tree by the locals, this little kopitiam is manned by Ah Lai and his wife, Ah Lim and their son.
So what’s the fuss over this kopitiam when they would just serve any common meals like some of the old coffee shops or mamak stalls scattered around Georgetown? You would be surprised as they have a truly 1-Malaysia concept here where all races would come in daily to have a boost of their delicious meal, basically instant noodles soup and toasted bread. Huh? Are you serious? Indeed I am! They do serve delicious instant noodles (RM3.50 per bowl – Maggi Mee to be precise) just like how you would cook at home, boiled with some cabbages, carrots and big onion, topped with a poached egg and 4 parts of a sausage. Next you would be asking why you should be paying for that amount when you could easily cook your own at home, in fact much cheaper than that pricing. The secret lies within the soup base. You surely won’t get that taste as you would here. On top of maintaining the al dente of the noodles, Ah Lai somehow managed to perfect his secret paste to be added into the soup. On top of that, some of the noodles had some evaporated milk added in for that extra creaminess. There are four types of noodles you can choose from here ranging from Clear Soup Noodles, Duck Noodles, Curry Noodles and Tom Yam Noodles. The Curry and Tom Yam Noodles are the two most sought after noodles here, a bit spicy for many but they were definitely delicious.
Their toasted breads here are indeed done to the crisp I always like. This place has been my second alternative for toasted bread after Ah Wang’s Cafe at Tanjung Tokong. The Toasted Butter & Kaya Bread (RM1.40/set) has the eggy type of coconut jam (kaya) just like how my granny would have made. What got the customer coming back for more were not these toasted breads or their half boiled eggs but their Toasted Sandwich Special (RM3.80). This item was so uniquely prepared that it would only be available at this place. The bread would be laced with some cheese, topped with omelette, sausage slices and sauce prior to being toasted. The sausage has been carefully peeled to get even thickness, thus you would get an even flavor throughout your bites. Other than these, there would also be some Nasi Lemak in-a-box (RM2 each) with different combinations, supplied by other vendors, for you to choose from.
It would rather easy to find this kopitiam as it is situated right under the biggest tree you can find along Gat Lebuh Gereja. If you are coming from Lebuh Light, you would come to a roundabout (aluminium betel nuts sculptures/Queen Victoria’s Memorial Clock Tower). Make a 270 degrees right turn into Lebuh Pantai. Drive all the way and make a second left turn into Gat Lebuh Gereja. You can see the stall on your left. There would be ample parking space there.
Name: AH LAI KOPITIAM @ UNDER THE BIG TREE CAFE
Address: 15, Gat Lebuh Gereja, 10200 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 016-477 1332 (Ah Lai/Ah Lim)
Opening Hours: 9.00am-5.00pm (Mon-Fri), 9.00am-3.00pm (Sat) – off Sunday & Public Holidays
GPS: 5.416629, 100.34294
Ambience: 5.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 6/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)