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.
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.
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