SEMPORNA: Best known as being the gateway to the world-renowned Sipadan and Mabul dive sites, Semporna is also home to Cham Chuan Kee Restaurant, an old kopitiam that is famous for its freshly-baked bread and buns.
Tucked within the busy streets of Semporna town, the 68-year-old coffee shop attracts a diverse set of diners, from the local Bajau community to tourists preparing to head out for their various island excursions.
Manager Lee Sui San, 61, said the eatery was founded by his grandfather and has been around for three generations. He currently runs it with his two brothers.
"This restaurant is as old as Semporna, and my grandfather was well-known among the locals. Just mention his name, and they would point you to this place," he said.
Other than being steeped in history, part of the coffeeshop's appeal was the fluffy texture of its bread, served in generous portions for a surprisingly cheap price.
Lee said the bread is baked using traditional methods handed down from generation to generation.
"Until now, we still bake our bread the traditional way. When our diners try our bread, they will know immediately how different it is from others.
"We set cheap prices for our food so that everyone, regardless of their economic background, can afford to eat.
"Anyone can buy a meal for RM2 here, and it will be enough to fill their stomachs," he said.
Lee also said Cham Chuan Kee also prides itself as a job provider, and that many employees were from the local Bajau community.
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