When I say I’m a bread person, I mean it— I really can have bread for all my meals. I appreciate any kind of toast, especially traditional toast with the typical pairing of kaya and butter. While I was at Jalan Batu Hawker Centre, I came across 133 Traditional Coffee and Toast, which showcases an array of our Singaporean breakfast staple— traditional toasts.
Coming down twice that week for the same platter of toasts, I knew that the store had garnered its own cult of regular customers that fancy their spread as I saw plenty of familiar faces that I chanced upon at my previous visit.
Whether it’s in the morning or late afternoon, the influx of customers was seriously saturated. They sell about over 80 to 100 sets of toasts in a day, selling out completely on a daily basis. I guess these people can agree with me that toast are meant for every other meal! (If you think that breakfast foods triumph over lunch and dinner options, we can be friends.)
Upon ordering, I was greeted by the wide smile of the store attendants. There were about 3 to 4 people manning the store: the bubbly youthful girl in the front-of-house accompanied by her parents, who handle the mechanics and operations behind the stall. Like a 2-man system, Uncle John was preparing the toasts while another uncle was in charge of pulling drinks.
I caught wind that this store offered an array of toasts that differ from the conventional breakfast toast set, and the bread lover in me knew I had to order it all. I mean, their Kaya Butter Bun literally looked like a huge sponge cake!
What I tried at 133 Traditional Coffee and Toast
I tried everything on their menu except for Kaya Toast Cubes (S$1.40). Considering how I chose kaya and butter as my spread for all the other toasts, I opted for Peanut Butter Cubes (S$1.40) instead. Uncle John mentioned that his toasts are entirely customisable to personal preferences, so if you aren’t big on the big slabs of butter, you can just let them know upon order. I understand how one can get anxiety upon ordering because of how intimidating coffeeshop aunties are, but rest assured that the owners of 133 Traditional Coffee and Toasts are super friendly!
Their signature French Butter Kaya Toast (S$2.20) is one that stands out amongst other coffee stalls as it features the distinguishable French baguette, which is also known as jiam tao lor ti (aka pointed bread in Hokkien) to locals. This dish is iconic thanks to the bread’s pointed tips and its crispy exterior that breaks soft white bread. Complemented by the thick slabs of butter and kaya, this is an interesting option that strays away from traditional breakfasts. I am officially a fan.
Just look at how crispy the crust is and you’ll understand why I love this so much. The immediate thing I noticed was how crusty and crumbly it was. I am known to be a messy eater, but after indulging in their baguettes, I felt embarrassed about the mess I made on the table.
Is that a vanilla chiffon cake or a loaf of bread? The answer is: none! This is their Kaya Butter Bun (S$1.40). Traditionally, kaya toasts are served on thin slices of white toasted bread but this is a rendition of their thick toast bun. From this angle, don’t you think they look like hot cross buns?
These are well stuffed for sure. Coupled with creamy pandan kaya and melty butter, it almost tasted like vanilla butter cake! They look dense but be assured that these fluffy buns were so deliciously soft and airy!
Now, the test of their old-school kaya toasts. Traditional Kaya Butter Toast (S$1.40) is the classic Singaporean breakfast that is usually served alongside a cup of kopi and two soft-boiled eggs. For the set, this goes at S$3.10. Compared to established chains that are easily located at air-conditioned malls, I very much prefer savouring my half-dipped kaya toast in my kopi c at hawker centres or coffee shops. The distinguishing factor is probably witnessing the chummy interactions that locals have with one another at hawker centres.
After I give this review, I am probably done with kaya toasts for awhile. There was just such a wide selection of variations! I wouldn’t complain though; I really liked all their toasts and my friendly conversations that I shared with them. Uncle John mentioned that he only took over the stall 2 years ago with no prior experience. But with his willpower and heart to make toasts and drinks for the whole community, the store has definitely attracted its fair share of loyal customers.
Did I also mention that they invest so much effort in washing their coffee tanks? I remember coming by on Sunday and leaving impressed because of their cleanliness. From what I understand, this standard of cleanliness is rare with most coffee stalls. Instead of patronising cafes, maybe come over for a potent cup of coffee. I promise that it tastes different!
Expected damage: S$1.40 – S$3.10
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