Like many coffeeshops or food places in Penang, Meng Chai Kopitiam came into being in the aftermath of World War II, as Penang emerged from the ravages of a brutal Japanese army occupation.
Hainanese-owned, it offered the usual Hainanese breakfasts which consisted of local coffee, kaya-and-butter toasts, and soft-boiled eggs.
71-yar-old Mr Foo Thian Hoe aka Ah Hoe served up probably the best Hainanese-style beef noodles in Butterworth. His family has been doing this for nearly 70 years now, first in Bukit Mertajam, and now at Meng Chai.
The beef noodles here, despite its Hainanese origins, have a similar taste profile as Vietnamese pho, probably because a sizeable proportion of Chinese residents in Butterworth are of Teochew/Chaozhou descent (more so than in George Town on Penang island), the same dialect group that formed the majority of Chinese in Vietnam and the rest of Indo-China.
Hainanese-style herbal beef soup is only available Mon, Thu & Sun
Butterworth residents generally lead a languid, laidback lifestyle, and Meng Chai is one of their go-to places for a cuppa and a chat with friends.
Meng Chai Kopitiam (Est. 1950)
15, Lorong Bagan Luar 3
12000 Butterworth, Penang
Tel: +6016-456 2297
Operating hours: 8am-3pm daily, except Tuesdays