Old Street Kobiteh
by Nelson Chow

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The interior of this Hong Kong restaurant by architect Nelson Chow was inspired by Malaysia's bustling night markets and traditional coffee shops (+ slideshow).

Old Street Kobiteh by Nelson Chow

Old Street Kobiteh restaurant, located in the Popcorn shopping mall in Hong Kong's Tseung Kwan O district, was designed by Nelson Chow to reference the 1920s Malaysian coffee shops called "kopitiam".

Old Street Kobiteh by Nelson Chow

"Kopitiam serve dishes from different ethnicities so that people from different backgrounds can all dine together," says Chow, who chose to accentuate this communal aspect with an 11-metre-long dining table.

Old Street Kobiteh by Nelson Chow

The table comprises 30 smaller units, each decorated with a different tile pattern found in the Malaysian streetscape.

Old Street Kobiteh by Nelson Chow

To create the ambience of a night market, Chow placed neon signs alongside light fixtures inspired by old street lamps.

Old Street Kobiteh by Nelson Chow

Opposite the long table is an open kitchen where chefs occasionally perform tea ceremonies in front of the customers.

Old Street Kobiteh by Nelson Chow

A high ledge above the banquette seating displays vintage plates and hand-drawn menus.

Old Street Kobiteh by Nelson Chow

We've previously featured two fashion boutiques designed by Chow – one with a suspended ceiling made from hundreds of white cables and another monochrome space for the same brand.

Old Street Kobiteh by Nelson Chow

Other restaurants we've published recently include a Parisian hamburger joint inspired by the lights of New York's theatre district and a dining room overlooking the pitch at Greek football club Olympiacos – see all restaurants.

Old Street Kobiteh by Nelson Chow

See all projects in Hong Kong »

Old Street Kobiteh by Nelson Chow

Photographs are by Dennis Lo Designs.

Old Street Kobiteh by Nelson Chow

Above: floor plan - click for larger image

Here's some information from the architects:


A Kopitiam dining experience that recalls the old Malaysian streetscape

Old Street Kobiteh is a recently completed restaurant in Hong Kong that references a traditional kopitiam (coffee house) while taking on elements inspired from the contemporary Malaysian streetscape. The kopitiam is an unique Malaysian institution originating from the 1920s. Its name reflects the country’s multi-ethnic society: kopi is the Malay term for coffee, and tiam is the Hokkien word for shop. Kopitiam serve dishes from different ethnicities so that people from different backgrounds can all dine together under the same roof. This communal aspect is the main inspiration for the open concept at Old Street Kobiteh which is centered around a 37 foot long dining table.

The central table is comprised of 30 modular units, each showcasing a different tile pattern from the Malaysian vernacular streetscape. Together they form a colorful mosaic display that recalls the hustle and bustle of the vibrant Malaysian urban center. Particular inspiration comes from the night market, where streets are filled with hawkers preparing dishes in front of the customers, generating plenty of sounds & aromas to create an exciting dining experience. Custom details include light fixtures inspired by old street lamps along with neon signs which contribute to the overall ambience of a night market. At Old Street Kobiteh, an open kitchen is placed opposite the communal table, with a continuous upper ledge showcasing hand drawn menus, vintage plates and an assortment of the restaurants food offerings. The strategic placement allows the chef to engage with the diners by performing periodical acts such as Teh Terik pulled tea ceremony.

On one level, the design of Old Street Kobiteh showcases how the spirit of the Malaysian streetscape could be translated architecturally into a Kopitiam restaurant within a conventional mall setting. On another level, it showcases a holistic approach to restaurant design, seamlessly integrating the design of the restaurant’s interior, furniture, lighting fixtures, graphics, staff uniforms, while incorporating found vintage objects. By crafting an aesthetic from the mood and lighting of a space right down to its detailed components, the end result is a visually striking yet highly functional family style contemporary restaurant.

Project Title: Old Street Kobiteh Restaurant
Location: Shop G09, Popcorn Mall, Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong
Interior Design: NC Design & Architecture Ltd (NCDA)
Project Designer: Nelson Chow (NCDA)
Graphic Design: NC Design & Architecture Ltd (NCDA) and Whatever Workshop Ltd
Client: Buick Management Limited

  • syahmi

    I don’t feel the kopitiam atmosphere and ambience based on the pics. Maybe because I don’t feel the honesty in the design?

  • cungss

    FYI, kopitiam is NOT uniquely Malaysian as it is typically Southeast Asian – (Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc.), especially in the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Western Kalimantan and other smaller islands. No one ethically must not individually claim something that is shared.