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Kopitiam by Wilai is a contemporary classic in Phuket Town

PHUKET: Despite being just three years old, Kopitiam by Wilai feels like it’s been around forever.

By Claire Connell

Tuesday 21 May 2013, 05:12PM

If you dine here regularly you’ll likely already be familiar with Wiwan “View” Bumrungwong, the manager who is around most days, and is the eldest of three children.

Her parents Wilai and Wirot own the restaurant, with her mother also running a self-titled Thai restaurant two doors down, which has been open for more than a decade.

Though Wiwan’s ancestors originally came from China, her family has a long-running history with Phuket. 

Wilai’s great grandfather was the original founder of the Kathu Shrine.

The shop that Kopitiam is located in has been owned by the Bumrungwong family for around 20 years, while Wiwan’s grandparents also own Phuket’s oldest herb shop just a few doors down.

A fourth generation Phuketian, Wiwan spent time studying at college in Texas in the United States. Her friendly approach and smile are possibly why, along with the great food, Kopitiam is so successful.

Inside, the restaurant has a very local feel, with old-style wooden chairs and tables, as well as plenty of photographs and heirlooms on display.

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Many of the black and white photos show what Phuket used to look like in the 1970s and 80s, and were taken by Phuket photographer Mr Sangchan. When he died, Wiwan’s uncle purchased the photo collection because it was such a good record of local history.

Most of the food at Kopitiam is reasonably priced around the B60-70 mark, and is a mixture of traditional Thai dishes, Hokkien Chinese food, and local Phuket favourites.

Recommended dishes, of which there are many, include the “mee sua pad” fried noodle dish, their excellent chicken Massaman curry and the Hokkien noodles.

Wiwan herself recommends the grilled tofu with tamarind dipping sauce (B50); the Phuket-style salad with tofu, crispy noodles, boiled egg and a sweet hot dressing (B80); and the ‘bak kut teh’ set for B120; her grandmother’s herb and pork rib soup with simmered vegetables.

Drinks wise, you’re encouraged to try the ginger iced tea (made with fresh ginger pieces), the butterfly pea flower drink, and the delicious almond milk, best served iced.

Oh, and that name? Kopitiam is the old local word for coffee shop. Like the restaurant itself, it’s a fitting tribute to the past.

Kopitiam by Wilai, 18 Thalang Rd, Phuket Town. Open daily 11am to 10pm, closed Sun.



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