Located an hour from Melaka, Muar sits between a sleepy port and a bustling city. It is clear that he is beautiful, and his people are happy to live in the royal city of Johor. For historians, Muar has significance as the site of the last intervention in the Malay campaign during the Japanese invasion.
However, for many passers-by, it’s not the history that attracts them like the food. After all, Muar means otak-otak, people traveling to and from Singapore often buy bags of seafood. Besides otak-otak, Muar also attracts people who want to grab a good cup of coffee, as one of the most famous kopitiam in Malaysia resides here.
Sai Kee Coffee is the name of a popular coffee shop, although locals affectionately call it Kopi 434. This coffee shop has been serving hot cups of coffee and cheap food since 1953, earning it a solid reputation.
So how did it all begin? I came to Malaysia with one Kiar Am Sai, a Hainanese immigrant when he was only 17 years old.
Although he is still young, he is a practical boy and has a knack for brewing coffee. He even invented his own recipe for traditional coffee brewing. Discovering an opportunity to live in Muar, he opened Sai Kee Coffee in Jalan Maharani, overlooking Sungai Muar. Unlike today’s brick structure, Sai Kee used to be a simple two-story wooden shop. Kiar coffee is loved by the Muar people, which urgently needs a reputation to be marketable and memorable.
Kiar was a shrewd businessman and in the 1960s he invented a brand name that would stick decades later, namely “434”. Why those numbers exactly? Apparently they were part of his phone number at the time, and it was easy to remember