Yut Kee – Changing Times
Since 1928, Yut Kee has been serving Hainanese food in the same locale to generations of faithful followers, local business people and the odd tourists. Housed in a traditional Malaysian Chinese shop house, this kopitiam has not changed much since it first opened, giving it a nostalgic charm. But sadly it’s one of the last of its kind.
The place is always abuzz with regulars sitting at the marble-topped tables with sunlight reflecting off the big mirrors on either side of the restaurant, whilst a portrait of Yut Kee overlooks everything. Third generation managed family business with Jack and his son Mervyn, customers will queue up throughout the day waiting for their turn to have some of the signature fare. The kitchen runs like a well-oiled machine with a fast and furious flow of plates with steaming hot food, boxes of homemade cakes and white and green cups with thick black coffee.
With Malaysia’s need for fast paced change, in a city where shopping malls and condos are sprouting like mushrooms, historic parts of Kuala Lumpur are quickly being erased and Yut Kee has not been immune to the pressures of an ever changing urban landscape. After 86 years Yut Kee closed the doors of its coffee shop only to reopen them in its new home, just around the corner. Interestingly the new location is Jack’s old childhood home, a red free standing Chinese house, making the transition a full circle of sorts. Even though there will be usual glitches of adjusting and settling in the new premises with its modern kitchen facilities, they have tried to incorporate as much of the old charm into it as possible. Similar floor tiles will adorn the new venue, the mirrors will find new walls to call home and the picture of Yut Kee will be there to watch over. The owners are determined to keep the same flavours and spirit and people can continue to queue up for their favourite Kuala Lumpur Hainanese fare.