We combed the Klang Valley looking for the perfect bowl of cendol. Sweet and cooling, it's a perfect thirst quencher for Malaysians looking for some relief from the heat. Here are our top spots in the Valley...
Let's sneak out for an afternoon delight...
Shaved ice with a creamy coconut and gula melaka mixture really hits the spot on a hot scorching day. It's named after those lovely green worms usually found in your icy desserts. Made from pandan, corn flour and green pea flour, cendol is actually quite bland. But, when you add it to some ice, santan and gula melaka it lends the ideal chewy texture that an icy dish needs.
Of course the santan needs to be rich and creamy. There's nothing worse than eating cendol that uses runny santan. And the one that anchors them all is the gula melaka. Palm sugar usually makes or breaks a cendol. If there's too much it leaves you running to your nearest dentist. When there's too little of it, the cendol becomes a tasteless icy mess. The green wriggly cendol of course gives the right amount of ooommph to this local afternoon treat. Kidney beans are not a must but nowadays most places usually have them in the cendol they serve.
Pining for Pulut:Cendol Klang
Balance. That is why this cendol place has been around since 1972. They have the perfect harmony of cendol, santan, ice and gula melaka making this our top choice for cendol. Their pale green cendol strands are springy and silky, sliding in your mouth with every refreshing scoop. Ice is shaved finely and dissolves into the santan like tiny snowflakes. Kidney beans are small and dainty. Bite into one and you discover how soft they are.
Cendol here is served in nice metal bowls...
Then, to sweeten and finish it off an expert hand drizzles gula melaka over the mountain of ice. Giving a wonderful caramel quality to the cendol. Another plus point here is their generosity with their portions. Bowls are filled to the brim with a silver saucer on the bottom to catch any overflow.
Gimme some of that pulut baby!
A must try here is the cendol pulut. If you think that cendol here is blow-your-mind-good, add pulut and your tastebuds will be crying with joy. It's like eating lemang with cendol. You might think that this will be too rich but somehow the combination with the santan works. The key is in the amount of salt they put in the pulut. Because it is so well seasoned it stands on its own and doesn't get overpowered by the creamy santan.
They serve quite decent rojak here as well. There's no waiting staff so you have to line up with the masses to get your hands on their yummy cendol. Some things are really worth the wait.
RM1.50 for cendol biasa, RM 2.20 for cendol pulut
78, Jalan Nanas, Klang, Selangor. Tel: 03 3342 8455/017 636 9737. Opens: 11 am to 7.30 pm daily
Lusting for Little Things: Restoran Muar
Served in an itty-bitty bowl, this is the cutest cendol dish that we've tried so far. It has little bits of sweetcorn, short strands of cendol and tiny red beans. Portions are also smaller than most other cendol places. There's a great restraint to how they serve it here. Though it's small but it's big on flavour. The taste of gula melaka is prominent and as the ice melts, the cendol reaches a perfect level of sweetness. They use the good stuff here. It has hints of caramel and butterscotch to it.
A great little finish to a spicy meal
Red beans fall apart in your mouth and sweet corn softens away with each bite. At first glance, you won't think that you'll be satisfied. As you devour the last remnants of it, you've realized that it's actually a fitting portion to round off your meal. Sometimes, too much of a good thing is just simply too much. Food here is also great. Have dinner and finish on a high note with the yummy but petite bowl of cendol.
RM1 a bowl
No. 6G Tengkat Tong Shin 50200 Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03 2144 2072 / 012 219 2199. Opens: Tues-Sun, 11am-3pm, 6pm-10pm
Crazy for Cincau: Seksyen 17, PJ
This humble truck by the side of the road serves one of the best cendol in PJ. The difference with this and the other places is the addition of cincau (grass jelly) in their cendol. Cincau helps to cool you down when the weather gets really hot. The jelly texture of the cincau also gives a refreshing twist to the dessert. Team it up with the slightly chewy cendol strands and you get a rejuvenating ice dessert that soothes your parched throat.
A bit of floppy cincau adds some competition to the al dente cendol
A scoop of gula melaka transforms the santan into a milky mocha colour. This adds some sweetness to the santan. Beans here are big and firmer compared to their Klang counterparts. Cendol fans usually tapau their cendol because the seats here are limited. Queues get long around 4, when residents of the nearby housing area swarm the truck to get some cendol for their tea. They would order by the bagfuls so if you don't want to miss out, get here early.
RM1.50 for eating there, RM2 for tapau
At the corner of Jalan 17/41A and Jalan 17/21, Seksyen 17, PJ. Opens: 11.30am to 5pm daily
Going Gaga over Gula Melaka: SS 15, Subang Jaya
If you have a sweet tooth, this will be your choice of cendol. Abang Hamid is not stingy with his gula melaka, he puts 2 scoops into each bowl of icy goodness. It does help that the bits of ice thaw into the santan, which lessens the extra sweetness of the gula melaka. Cendol have been sold here for the past 30 years and regular customers now call in advance to book theirs. The santan is creamier than the other cendol places I've tried. Here, kidney beans are almost a mush, cooked until they're unbelievably soft. It melts into the santan, thickening it with the mild flavour of the bean.
Eat it quick because it melts fast!
There's nowhere to sit so you can see people standing around cupping bowls of cendol in their hands. Some even make themselves comfy sitting on the curb. This just shows how well loved Abang Hamid's cendol is. Though there are no seating arrangements, loyal customers throng the stall everyday because the cendol is just too damn good.
RM1.50 for a bowl
Along Jalan SS15/3B, 47500 Subang Jaya. Tel : 016 2831321 (Abang Hamid) Opens: 11.30 am to 7.30 pm daily
Raving for Red Bean: Penang Road Chendul, Shah Alam
Each bowl is filled with huge red beans, plenty of gula melaka and cendol strands all the way from Penang...hmmm...looks promising. At first, it turned me off a bit. It's served in a polystyrene bowl which kinda left me feeling a bit miffed, but then don't judge a cendol from its bowl, eh? One sip and that gula melaka really hits you. Like liquid toffee.
For all you sweet tooth people out there...
Not suitable for lazy chewers because the ice here is not as finely shaved as the other places on this list. A massive ice boulder sits in the middle of the bowl refusing to melt no matter how long it takes for you to finish it up. It does keeps your cendol icy cool though. So, if you want to exercise your jaw, feel free to try and demolish the boulder.
Oh beware all you miniscule titanics!
This cendol is sinful. Even the kidney beans are sweet. Eat it on its own and it’s like chewing candied beans. Big and fleshy, these beans would definitely give you a sugar high. So, if you like your beans fat and sugary, go for this one.
Cendol is brought over from the original shop in Penang Road. They’re thinner and shorter than KL cendol. Maybe they like it that way up north. Coconut is freshly pressed on site so it's rich and creamy.
RM2 for a bowl
Food Court, Giant Hypermarket Shah Alam, Lot 2, Persiaran Sukan, Section 13, 40100 Shah Alam. Opens: 10am to 10pm daily