Chin Mee Chin Confectionery – Kopitiam Experience

Chin Mee Chin Confectionery - 1950s style kopitiam.

Chin Mee Chin Confectionery – 1950s style kopitiam.

I am not sure but I think this place is at least half a century old and I felt quite ashamed to admit that having lived here for so long, this is my first trip to the iconic Hailam kopitiam serving authentic Hailam kopi and confectionery. I know I must sound like the biggest country pumpkin around but I went to Chin Mee Chin Confectionery for the very first time just this last Saturday after my road trip back from Genting Highlands!

CMC housed along East Coast Road where I am standing (shophouses opposite depicts pre-war architecture).

CMC housed along East Coast Road where I am standing (shophouses opposite depicts pre-war architecture).

I have been plagued with sharp migraines every now and then and took an early rest Friday night upon my return and naturally I woke up very early the day. In fact, K and I reach there at 7am to find this shop still in the midst of preparation – we were one hour ahead of their opening hours. So we took a leisurely walk down the road where I had a chance to photograph some of these pre-war architectures.

Luncheon meat buns and other sweet dough.

Luncheon meat buns and other sweet dough.

We strolled back at 7.50am and the elderly lady opened up the old school metal gate to allow us in. Hey, we were the first patrons of the day 🙂

Custard puffs.

Custard puffs.

As a first timer at the kopitiam, it was quite daunting when it came to ordering. I had chosen a seat in front of the display cabinet so I could take some pictures while waiting for the staff to take my orders but K said this is a self service place. What does that mean? K showed the rope to getting us fed…

Choux pastry with chocolate topping - inside is a dollop of whipped cream on custard.

Choux pastry with chocolate topping – inside is a dollop of whipped cream on custard.

We placed our order of coffee, eggs and toasts with the elderly lady (I think she’s the boss’ wife – this should be family-run business) and then we helped ourselves to the plates and tongs found on top of the display cabinets and took what we fancied. When our drinks were served, we let the lady know what we had taken and she would jot the items down on a piece of paper. We would then either proceed to the cashier (that’s her too) and pay up immediately or later, after we have consumed the goodies.

Life is short, eat dessert first.

Life is short, eat dessert first.

The food at CMC is simple, old school, no fancy New York cupcake decorations but they were being grabbed by the dozens by customers who stopped by for take-aways. I was very surprised that soon after I was seated, streams of crowd (families with young children and old folks) started pouring in. Maybe I’m such an owl I’d forgotten about the larks. As seats are limited, you would have to share tables with the odd couples dotted around the kopitiam.

Choux pastries with  chocolate, custard and cream (inside).

Choux pastries with chocolate, custard and cream (inside).

CMC do not have fixed menu although they have regular items like the kaya toasts, soft-boiled eggs, cupcakes and sweet buns. On other days, they serve chocolate coronets, curry puffs, sausage rolls and fruit cakes, etc…

From left bottom: egg tart, plain sweet dough with some almond flakes, luncheon meat roll, chocolate cupcake with rainbow sprinkles.

From left bottom: egg tart, plain sweet dough with some almond flakes, luncheon meat roll, chocolate cupcake with rainbow sprinkles.

These are freshly baked daily so grab them as they are brought out… piping hot!

Breakfast my mom may not approve.

Breakfast my mom may not approve.

As the trays were being depleted, new trays of goodies were brought out and you may find something new and delightful.

Soft crumbed cupcake with chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles.

Soft crumbed cupcake with chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles.

The cupcakes were not overly sugared but enough to satisfy anyone with sweet tooth.

Hailam (Hainanese - a Chinese dialect group) kopi.

Hailam (Hainanese – a Chinese dialect group) kopi.

Some people (older generation) like put a slice of butter into their cup of kopi-O (black coffee) but I do not practise that. This practice came about when cooks from the olden days could only afford cheap beans –  they enhanced their coffee’s aroma by wok-frying (roasting) them with butter and sugar.

Kaya toasts here actually is sweet buns split and charcoal grilled.

Kaya toasts here is sweet buns split and charcoal grilled to perfect light crisp.

The buns are baked daily. The toasted soft buns were charcoal grilled till its outer crisp yet maintained a fluffy inside. Spread with fragrant kaya and a thick slice of butter, they gave me an unforgettable taste experience unlike the usual sandwich squares we have at other kopitiams. CMC also sell their kaya in tubs for take-aways. The kaya, a coconut egg custard jam, is cooked by hand in huge cauldrons heated over slow burning charcoals, releasing a sweet aroma. Toasts slathered with kaya and butter is perfect for breakfast or an afternoon tea snack, don’t you think?

Typical traditional Singaporean breakfast of soft-boiled eggs and kopi.

Typical traditional Singaporean breakfast of soft-boiled eggs.

4-5 minutes soft-boiled eggs.

4-5 minutes soft-boiled eggs.

For recipe on soft-boiled eggs, see Singapore Brekkie post.

Eat them with a dash of pepper and a drizzle of dark soy.

Eat them with a dash of pepper and a drizzle of dark soy.

Velvety soft smooth whites with runny yolks.

Velvety soft smooth whites with runny yolks.

By the way, kopitiam (old school coffee shop) evidently highlights the polyglot culture of Singapore (Singlish) — “kopi” is the Malay word for coffee, while “tiam” is the Hokkien (Chinese dialect group) word for shop.

Crowds streaming in with more in queue wating for seats which means I have to go and stop hogging the place.

The decor of CMC is old school. Mosaic tiled floors and walls (halfway) with marbled table tops and wooden chairs.
Crowds streaming in at 8am on a Saturday morning with more in queue wating for seats which means I have to go.

I love baking breads and was certified by BITC (Baking Industry Training Centre Singapore) years ago. Below is my modification of the master recipe for sweet dough.

Sweet buns with luncheon meat filling.

Sweet buns with luncheon meat filling.

Sweet Buns Recipe (Rapid Dough System)
Ingredients:
500g Bread Flour (Strong or High Protein Flour).
100g Castor Sugar.
20g Skimmed Milk Powder.
1 Egg (50g).
200g Icy Cold Water. (I used a commercial digital weighing machine so my water was measured in grams).
10g Dry Yeast (activated with a tablespoon of warm water in a small bowl).
7.5g Salt.
60g Crisco (Vegetable Shortening).

Method:
1. Put all the ingredients except Salt and Crisco in a mixer (I use Kenwood or Kitchen Aid – you can knead by hand).

2. Knead on 1st speed (low) to incorporate all the ingredients first then on 2nd speed until a smooth dough is formed.

3. Test by taking out a big pinch of dough and try to spread them with your fingers. If the dough can be stretched (elastic) like a thin membrane (like a spread out roti paratha during flipping and you can read prints through the dough), you have reached the right stage (gluten is developed). See first video.

Scaling weight (divide the dough): 60g.

Floor time: 1 hour.

Intermediate prove (proving means resting the dough): 15 minutes. Round and tighten the dough (see second video below for idea on scaling/dividing and rounding of dough).

Add desired filling (tuna, luncheon meat, cocktail sausage, curried potatoes, etc…) after intermediate proving stage. Pinch the dough to seal completely and shape them into rounds or rolls. Put shaped buns onto a greased tray with seam side down. You can also leave out the fillings and make clusters like monkey bread and put them in a greased sprinform tin instead.

Final prove: 1-2 hours (depends on weather and humidity – may fine-spray/misting with some water if necessary halfway through proving) or until the dough is fully aerated (double in size) which means the dough will spring back into shape when poked or depressed with a finger.

Egg wash the top half of the shaped buns (characteristics of sweet buns have a white waistline when baked) with beaten egg & milk mixture.

Bake at 200°C.

Bake time: 10 minutes on the 2nd rack from bottom up of oven or until the buns are foxy brown with fair perimeters.

Phot credit: Google Images

Kneading bread by mixer or hand.
Photo credit: Google Images

Happy baking 🙂

Below are some videos on ideas of general breadmaking. I hope you enjoy them.

Chin Mee Chin Confectionery
204 East Coast Road,
Singapore 428903.
Tel: 6345 0419
Transit: Dakota (CC Line – opposite Holy Family Church)

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 8am – 430pm
(Closed on Mon)

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Comments
8 Responses to “Chin Mee Chin Confectionery – Kopitiam Experience”
  1. renxkyoko says:

    That pastry with bavarian creme… * creme puff * my most favorite thing in the world.

  2. Melisa R says:

    I want everything on those images. Two of everything! I will have to be rolled out. The pictures are beautiful.

  3. Sofia says:

    It looks like great place. I had never heard of putting mentega in your kopi. Ok, mentega is Indonesian for butter, I’m not sure if its the same in Malay, because I’m sure the word mentega has Portuguese roots.. It must be fantastic to have breakfast there. Ok, a breakfast that turns into a big brunch 🙂

  4. Such delicious photos! Thanks – that was as good as a tea break! 🙂

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