Meal for One: Kluang Station, 3Damansara PJ

Established in 1938, the original Kluang Rail Coffee in Johor is the stuff of legend. The humble kopitiam (coffee shop) started off as a pitstop for commuters and travelers at the Kluang Railway Station – where they could grab simple but tasty Malaysian breakfast quintessentials like nasi lemak, tea, half boiled eggs, and toast with butter and kaya. (you can read about my previous visit here).

Interstate travel is discouraged in light of the pandemic, so for KL-ites who can’t travel all the way down south, there is a ‘watered down’ alternative – in the form of Kluang Station in 3Damansara. While I am not sure if the Kluang Station franchise (they have a few shops across Peninsular Malaysia and also in Kuching, Sarawak) is affiliated in any way to Kluang Rail Coffee, it definitely draws inspiration from it, from the train station-themed decor to the classic favourites on its menu.

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The menu is a hodgepodge of Malaysian street food favourites with some Western offerings like pasta and salads thrown in. For drinks, there’s the usual teh tarik, milo and coffee, but also some less ordinary beverages like the pretty three-layered Sirap Bandung, which has rose cordial, condensed milk and gula melaka (palm sugar) on the bottom.

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Was in the mood for pasta, so I ordered a carbonara. It came with bits of fried ham and button mushrooms. The pasta was al dente, but the sauce had an odd, artificial flavour. Won’t be ordering this again. ._.

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I also felt like snacking on something, so I got an order of fried chicken. These are lightly battered boneless cubes served with spicy dipping sauce. It was decent but not great. At least the chicken was thoroughly cooked and not dry.

To be completely honest, I was not impressed with the few dishes I ordered – but then again, they are better known for Malaysian dishes so perhaps I got the wrong items? It is a far cry from the simplistic but comforting fare at Kluang Rail Coffee. That being said, they have value for money set lunches and most of their offerings are affordably priced, so its suitable for office workers in the area.

PS: There are 11 Kluang Stations all across Malaysia. I dined at the one at 3Damansara.

KLUANG STATION

Lot G-43, 3 Damansara Shopping Mall, No. 3, Jalan SS20/27, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 8AM – 10PM (daily)

kluangstation.com.my

The Original Kluang Rail Coffee, Johor

If you’re ever looking to hang like the locals while travelling in Singapore and Malaysia, no trip is complete without a visit to a kopitiam. A Kopitiam is a no-frills coffee shop where things like coffee, toast bread, nasi lemak and noodles are on the menu. Expect to sweat it out in a noisy environment, as most of the older ones do not have air conditioning and often squeeze dozens of tables into one small space.

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While in Kluang, we managed to grab breakfast at one of the most famous kopitiams in Malaysia – Kluang rail Coffee. Like the Ipoh OldTown White Coffee franchise, Kluang Rail Coffee has become so popular among Malaysians that it has franchises all over the country. The shop acts as the canteen of the town’s old train station and was opened in 1938.

A big thanks to my friend Evelyn who kindly brought us around her hometown for a bit of sightseeing and makan.

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The Kluang train station is a simple single-storey structure of wood and reinforced concrete. The national train, KTM, still runs through here.

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It was a weekday morning, but the place was still packed with patrons. We had to wait about 15 minutes for a table. The shop consists of an covered outdoor patio and an indoor dining area, separated by a kitchen where waiters bustle in and out.

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We ordered two types of toast – the normal white bread and the bun. Both were slathered with generous amounts of butter and kaya (a sweet jam made from coconuts/pandan and eggs). The toast’s texture was superb – crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They still make them using traditional charcoal grills, which gives them an authentic, smokey taste compared to the oven-toasted ones.

They are also famous for their nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk and served with sambal, a spicy chilli/onion/anchovies sauce), which sold like hotcakes whenever a fresh batch was put out on the table. These cost RM1 (about 0.30USD) but were rather plain (usually nasi lemak comes with boiled eggs, cucumbers, fried anchovies and chicken curry or rendang).

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The bun toast, with a crackly brown surface and soft white bread on the inside.

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Old tin teapots and ladles line the wooden shelves.

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Pops and I ordered the half-boiled eggs.

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Perfectly cooked – not too well done or raw. One can opt between normal farm variety eggs or kampung eggs, which are eggs from free range village chickens. We seasoned them with a dash of pepper and soy sauce. You can also dip the toast in this heavenly mix.

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After the meal, I went shooting random photos of people travelling on the train which had just pulled in. Family members waved from the window, standing next to it until the train pulled away to catch last glimpses of their beloved relatives.

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The train looked really old, with a dusty iron gray facade and rusty brown wheels.

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KTM, the ‘Blue Tiger’. FYI, the Malayan tiger is sort of our national animal. We have it on our national emblems. It’s sad that they are slowly being hunted to extinction, or being forced out of their homes due to deforestation.

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If you’re ever in this quaint little Johor town, pay a visit to the Kluang railway station for the simple yet amazing food and maybe sit by the platform to watch the trains come in.:)

Location: At the end of Jalan Station, Kluang

Coffee shop Operating hours:

  • 6.30am-12.30pm, and
  • 2.30pm-6.30pm daily except Tuesdays.

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Evelyn next brought us to the nearby Gunung Lambak Forest Reserve, a hilly area with tracks where locals often go jogging. The place was quiet on a weekday. There were a couple of families swimming in the public pool in front of the reserve.

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Nice and cooling environment, but the few facilities available here are quite unkempt. Evelyn said the local town council could not afford to maintain the upkeep of the park, hence everything is quite dilapidated. The pond is a sad sight, with only two forlorn turtles munching on fallen leaves on the water’s surface.

Kluang has been a fun and relaxing retreat for a day or two, but I don’t know if there’s much ‘return’ value because there is really not that much to do here. Still, a nice place to go for the first time visitor.