A photoessay on the declining culture of traditional kopitiams (coffee shops) in Kuala Lumpur. With the rise of rental and operating costs, along with the desire for newer coffee experiences, these institutions which have defined Malaysian culture for more than a century is at the tail end of its existence.
With one's honour and name at stake, a simple game of Chinese chess in a kopitiam is not something to be taken lightly.
Like clockwork, even before the main doors are open, customers are already settled down in their seats.
The coffeemaker prepares his brew for the impending stream of hungry customers.
The icon of a kopitiam; kopi-o and roti bakar.
The Lai Foong Coffee Shop, a permanent cultural exhibit of how things used to be, once upon a time in Kuala Lumpur.
The space of a large coffee shop is usually shared with sub-tenants who run their own businesses.
Enjoying a rare moment of relief, the master of the kitchen looks over the sea of patrons at Lai Foong Restaurant.
The tense communication between the front and the back of the house is often broken with fleeting laughter from an inside joke.
A kopitiam, just like any well-oiled machine, has its own rhythm, sights, smell and sounds that makes it unique over any other eatery.
Regulars and first-timers, old and young, all are welcome to enjoy a meal at their own leisure.
Business is always brisk at kopitiams like Yut Kee, which continues to survive based on its history and heritage as the oldest coffee shop in Kuala Lumpur. Update: Yut Kee is scheduled to shift out of its current premises to due to rising rental costs.
Not every kopitiam functions at a frantic pace, serving a thousand customers. Neighbourhood kopitiams are often quiet and relaxed with the occasional idle chatter breaking the silence. Update: This kopitiam has since closed its doors.
The unique emblem of the Toong Kwoon Chye Coffee Shop is proudly displayed on the walls, accompanied by poetry.
Madam Yap, the third generation in the family, holds her fort at the cash register.