This week on Cooking in America, host Pelin Keskin visits Kopitiam, a small space with counter service in New York City's Chinatown neighborhood serving Malaysian dishes and drinks in the Panang tradition.
The name of the eatery is indicative of what’s being served within: kopi is the Malay word for "coffee," and tiam means "shop" in Hokkien (a Chinese dialect). But Penang coffeeshop cuisine is not one of bland breakfast pastries; instead, the offerings are deeply flavorful, savory, and sweet options, and studded with regional delicacies like Morning Glory flowers and pandan leaves.
Owner and chef Kyo Pang grew up in Penang, the region of Malaysia that houses the nation’s capital city, and crafted a menu of small bites at Kopitiam reminiscent of her childhood. Many of the savory recipes are her father’s, a chef himself in Malaysia, and the sweet ones her mother’s: highlights include Penang white coffee, made with powdered milk, and thickly sliced kaya toast, spread with coconut jam. Watch the video above for a look at Kopitiam’s menu, as well as Keskin and Pang’s conversation