Cuisine off Campus: Limp shrimp and bold brews at Killiney Kopitiam

“Cuisine off Campus” reviews food near Stanford’s campus. We consider what matters to college students: how close is the restaurant? How expensive is the food? And, most importantly, how tasty is it? We hope to help you find your next favorite spot!

A cute cafe-restaurant hybrid, with bright light shining through its windows, Killiney Kopitiam feels inviting. Though we didn’t love all of our food, some things were pretty satisfying. With student discounts and a convenient Palo Alto location, Killiney Kopitiam wouldn’t be our first recommendation, but it may have what you are looking for. 

The chain’s flagship location, which opened in 1919, boasts the title of the oldest Hainanese coffee shop in Singapore. Killiney Kopitiam Palo Alto is the only location in the United States, though they have almost 30 locations across the globe. Their Palo Alto operation sits on Waverly Street, next to Tai Pan, a dim sum restaurant. It has a fast-casual feel, with simple tables and an ordering counter. 

One of us is a passionate coffee fan, so the prospect of a good cup of joe was exciting; unfortunately, the Kopi C at Killiney Kopitiam did not fit the bill. Described as coffee with evaporated milk and sugar cubes, the drink was too strong, tasting almost bitter. The intensity of the coffee wasn’t satisfying, but instead felt overwhelming. 

The Teh drink and the Kopi C. drink sit on a table side by side.
The Teh and the Kopi C. Both drinks were strongly brewed. (Photo: ISABELLA SARACCO/The Stanford Daily)

The Teh drink was similarly overwhelming, though a fan of bitter black tea might have better appreciated it. The condensed milk did little to cut the bitterness, but added depth to the flavor of the drink, giving it a pleasant silky texture. 

A potato curry puff cut in half shows off the soft green insides.
The potato curry puff was delicious with a flaky texture. (Photo: ISABELLA SARACCO/The Stanford Daily).

To start our meal, we split a potato curry puff. It had a satisfying, flaxy texture, contrasted with the warm, inner softness of the potato. The starch and curry combination was classic. As an appetizer, it was filling and delicious. 

The mee siam — a noodle dish served with tamarind gravy, shrimp, tofu and assorted vegetables — packed a flavorful punch. The lime added just the right hint of citrus to the sauce, which had a satisfying sourness. The tofu that topped the dish was texturally excellent. Unfortunately, the shrimp fell short in terms of freshness, but the dish could easily be enjoyed without them. 

The mee siam noodle dish has a soft boiled egg, shrimp, chives and tofu.
The mee siam noodle dish was generally good, except for the shrimp. (Photo: ISABELLA SARACCO/The Stanford Daily)

The chicken curry, unlike the mee siam, did not have a saving factor. Though it was a generous, filling portion, it had a grainy texture and one-dimensional flavor profile. It read as generically seasoned, lacking any defining standout flavors. The dry texture of the chicken did little to help.

The chicken curry dish displays velvety orange curry in front of a plate of rice.
The chicken curry looked better than it tasted. Its flavor lacked depth and fell flat. (Photo: KIRSTEN METTLER/The Stanford Daily)

Most of the dishes were around $20, though some of the vegetarian options were a bit cheaper. A draw of the restaurant is its student discount; Killiney Kopitiam offers a 15% discount to any Stanford students who bring their student ID. The restaurant is a 12-minute bike ride from suites on west campus or from EVGR A, Duan Hall on east campus.

If you like strong coffee and know how to make good menu picks, Killiney Kopitiam may be for you. However, with alternatives like Kali Greek Kitchen and So Gong Dong Tofu House nearby, it may not be your best lunch option. 

The remains of the mee siam noodle dish sit in a white bowl.
The end of the mee siam meal. The dish had a flavorful punch. (Photo: ISABELLA SARACCO/The Stanford Daily)

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques. If you have restaurant suggestions for this column to review, email arts ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

Originally posted 2023-04-25 00:07:40.


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