Hai Peng, which started its business in the 1940s right after World War II, is a dining institution in Kemaman, a coastal town in the state of Terengganu. Founded by Wong Sang Hai, it is one of the classic Hainanese-style kopitiams which one finds scattered all over Malaysia and Singapore.
Wong Sang Hai emigrated to Singapore from Hainan Island, China, as a lad of 17 back in 1917. He subsequently came to Kemaman (also known as Chukai) in 1937 and started a little kopitiam not far from the present premises.
Married to a local lass from Kuala Terengganu, the Wongs have 8 children, the youngest of whom, Elaine Wong, took over the running of the business today. The business was moved to its current premises about 30 years ago, and has continued to pull in the crowd ever since.
Our breakfast consisted of:
The traditional Hainanese breakfast trinity of soft-boiled eggs, traditional Hainanese coffee, and toasted buns sandwiching kaya egg custard and butter
Nasi dagang - a popular breakfast rice dish of semi-glutinous rice flavored with fenugreek seeds, shallots, julienned ginger and coconut milk. It’s drenched with a thin tuna curry.
Pulut lepa - this is the local Malay adaptation of the Javanese lemper, a snack of glutinous rice filled with spiced fish flakes & grated coconut, wrapped in banana leaf and grilled.
Unwrapped, the tube-shaped glutinous rice cake was crisp and aromatic, whilst moist inside.
Getting a table at this kopitiam can be quite a challenge on any day, anytime of the year - such is its reputation. 90% of its clientele are Malays, and the eatery takes great care to ensure all its food and drinks are sourced from halal suppliers, and its cooks and serving staff are also all-Malay.
Hai Peng Kopitiam
K-3753, Jalan Sulaimani, Kampung Gong Pauh, 24000 Chukai (Kemaman), Terengganu, Malaysia
Tel: +60 9-859 7810
Opening hours: 7am to 5pm daily, except Friday (Closed)