It suffers from a terrible location but it endures nonetheless. There is obviously a special place in the hearts of many Ipohites for Vintage Coffee & Bread, a humble kopitam with Hainanese food.
One might fail to notice Vintage Coffee & Bread since their address is misleading. After wandering up and down Jalan Theatre a couple of times, we thought that maybe this place had closed down. The last lot at the very end of Jalan Theatre is the Hong Loke Hotel, to which the Vintage Coffee & Bread sign can be found hanging under it. The entrance to the cafe with the proper signage is actually around the corner on Jalan Carey.
Ambience & Amenities
During Ipoh’s blazingly sunny days, it’s a shock (or a relief) to step through Vintage Coffee & Bread’s doors. On this bright morning, all but two of the windows in the place were shuttered, making it feel enclosed and dark in here. The ambience is pretty sombre compared to the other open-air kopitams all over Malaysia. They don’t seem to have a patio set up unless they need the extra tables, so it’s dim dining indoors or bust. At least the majority of the lighting inside is warm bulbs instead of horrendous fluorescent blue light.
Despite the lack of natural light, Vintage Coffee & Bread feels really homey and personal. There are all sorts of anachronisms on display around the place that don’t particularly follow any sort of theme, from a traditional Chinese water boiler to an antique typewriter. It feels like mom’s house in here, with clutter in the corner that you’re not sure if it’s just clutter or heirloom tiffin carriers and wooden stools that couldn’t fit anywhere else.
There is a toilet at the back of the cafe, past the glass-encased booth, down the right side. The washroom is behind a portable folding screen. The toilet room has a clean sitting toilet with paper provided. A sink with liquid soap is just outside the washroom door.
The food on offer is more suited to the breakfast and lunch crowd. All-day breakfast and rice dishes both in Chinese style and westernised fusions make up most of the menu. Plain water does cost RM1 per glass.
There are two cabinets near the counter, one chilled and one hot. In the cold one were cakes by the slice. Although there were only two on display today, I’m still curious about their yam cake that I didn’t order because it looked too big for my already full stomach. A smaller hot food cabinet sits on the counter and is stocked with puffs and pies, an ideal takeaway snack for later. Vintage Coffee & Bread’s homemade kaya in branded tubs are also for sale next to the register and make a great souvenir to take home.
I had a classic Malaysian breakfast and got the Steamed Bread with Butter and Kaya (RM3.10) to pair with my Tea (RM3.50). Between the bread, the butter had already melted into an ample layer of kaya. The steamed Hainanese bread is so incredibly pillowy that it felt like I was going to squish it just by picking it up. Although it feels so delicate, I dipped my kaya sandwich into my tea for a few bites, and it held up. This was a light little breakfast that left me comfortably satiated.
The Butter and Kaya French Toast (RM6.10) is fried to golden perfection with a fitting amount of butter and kaya provided on the side. The same soft Hainanese bread is used, infused with eggy goodness and fried in butter. When both the kaya and the additional butter are smeared on the toast, the result is an addictive, balanced mix of buttery saltiness with creamy kaya sweetness. Bread-wise, Mark said that this was good french toast, so I’ll trust the white person on this. He also got a Pineapple Juice (RM5.30) to drink, and it was just as uncomplicated as the restaurant. Simple, juiced pineapple with no added sugar.
Some days you don’t need anything fancy. The food won’t blow your mind, but it is tasty and priced fairly. Although I do feel that the dining room could be brighter, I was put at ease by the family restaurant feel of this place. The staff today at Vintage Coffee & Bread were polite, attentive and patient to obvious out-of-towners like us. If I lived in Ipoh, I would come back here to get my kaya on bread fix. With their unintimidating menu that mixes Hainanese with familiar western elements, I would say that this would be a good place for cautious tourists to try some classic kopitam fare… or completely wimp out and order a tuna sandwich, whatever.
Breakfast Price for 2 Pax: RM18.00
Tea (hot): RM3.50
Pineapple Juice: RM5.30
Steamed Bread with Butter & Kaya: RM3.10
Butter & Kaya French Toast: RM6.10
Vintage Coffee & Bread
No. 111, Jalan Theatre, 30300 Ipoh, Perak
Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30am – 7pm
Closed on Mondays
Alcohol Served: No