Just Open: Kopi-Tiam Spice Alley at Kensington Street, Chippendale

Callan Boys
Wanton mee: egg noodles, pork and prawn dumplings, barbecue pork, lard, and choy sum from Alex Lee Kitchen.
Wanton mee: egg noodles, pork and prawn dumplings, barbecue pork, lard, and choy sum from Alex Lee Kitchen. Photo: Callan Boys

University of Technology students are already spoilt for lunchtime options. Central Park across the road has Ippudo and Din Tai Fung, and Chinese Noodle Restaurant is a short stroll to the east. Now a new contender emerges – Kopi-Tiam on "Spice Alley", where there are  more dishes than you can shake a Chinese fried-dough stick at and most of them are $10 or under.

A kopitiam in Malaysia is a place where independent stallholders and food carts set up shop around tables and sell noodles, toast and eggs. Locals use it as a place to eat, chat, smoke cigarettes and drink coffee heavy with condensed milk. Chippendale's Kopi-Tiam (next to The Old Clare Hotel and part of the Greencliff Kensington Street redevelopment) has  more in common with the food court at Kuala Lumpur airport than its bustling namesakes, but, hey – it's cheap.

Four independent joints make up Kopi-Tiam. There is Alex Lee Kitchen for char siu and rice ($10), wanton mee ($10), Katong laksa ($10) and roti chanai ($6) and Old Jim Kee for hawker-style fare like Penang char kwai  teow ($10), mee goreng ($10) and lots of deep-fried snacks from fish ball skewers ($2) to sweet potato ($1.50).

Plenty of seats at Kensington Street's Kopi-Tiam.
Plenty of seats at Kensington Street's Kopi-Tiam. Photo: Callan Boys

Bang Luck Thai Street Food will sort you out for papaya salad with fried chicken ribs ($10) and mussel pancake with bean sprouts ($12) while Hong Kong Diner is your place for pork congee with century eggs ($9), pork and prawn siu mai (4 for $8) and steamed rice with beef brisket and tendons ($9).

You can take away and sit on the grass at Central Park or at one of Spice Alley's many wooden tables.  Make sure your PayPass is in the positive, otherwise you'll have to hand over your pocket change  to a bloke at the Spice Alley pay station who will give you a topped up Kopi-Tiam card in return.


Kensington Street, Chippendale, Mon-Sun 11am-10pm, kensingtonstreet.com.au