At long last, Singaporean kopi & kaya toast chain Ya Kun Kaya Toast has come to the UAE. For me, that means no more rationing bags of coffee and jars of kaya personally lugged from Singapore.
I'm not sure as to what extent I was involved with their decision to set up in the UAE, but I have been pestering them to do so for a couple of years. Let's just say that a few weeks before opening, I was phoned up by one of their people to notify me and invite me to Like their Facebook page, and was welcomed with a digital banner announcing my arrival when I did.
The cafe is located in its own (appropriately Sino-esque) hut, in the middle of the restaurant garden outside China Court in Dubai's Ibn Battuta Mall. There's plenty of outdoor seating for the cooler months, and lots of greenery and water around, reminiscent of the Singaporean ambiance.
The restaurant's interior is spacious and comfortable, done up in Ya Kun colors. It does not have a stewing kitchen, so no laksa and such at this one. No problem, because the menu has everything for which I primarily patronized the chain. The only thing left to see was how authentic it would be, especially given the local re-branding that dropped "kaya" from the name.
I and my friends went for the usual coffee set. I sprinkled the egg with pepper and drizzled it with soy sauce, just like old times. The toast was perfect, the sweet kaya layers letting the butter melt ever so slightly, while keeping it away from slices of toast cut to just the right thickness. The kopi was slightly off, as per my recollection; I asked for an additional dash of condensed milk, which fixed that.
They also gave us a hearty potato curry sandwich, on the house. Actually, I've never had this before, as I mainly went to Ya Kun for the kaya toast and kopi, but it was pretty good.
I was not quite done, for there was one long-time-no-see left: yuanyang, a Southeast Asian mixture of coffee and tea.
2014SEP11 UPDATE: No updates online since Ramadan, and the phone's not working. A call to Ibn Battuta confirmed the worst: it's closed, after barely a year of operation. I wonder why, because it was a fairly busy location, the economy's picking up, and there were always a good number of customers whenever I visited. Oh, well.
2014SEP13 UPDATE: After digging around their Facebook Page, it seems they're only closed for relocation. A relief, but I wish they prominently mentioned this on their Facebook Page and website.
2014NOV12 UPDATE: Ya Kun HQ has confirmed that the franchisee has shut shop permanently. What a shame. Hope someone else picks up the baton someday soon.