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2007.06.08

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q

at jonker 88:
http://flickr.com/photos/shafina/479228285/

i never liked red beans, but they had huge ones in the bowl and i ate all of them because the cendol was so good!

rasa malaysia

Robyn, I read your article on Saveur, it's so cool. Do you want me to take a picture for you? Just email me if you want to. :)

Chris

I love cendol and miss it terribly now that I am not in Msia anymore. I have tried to make the green pasta noodles using mung bean flour & lye water but they turned out so so. Do u have any suggestions? Thx!

Robyn

q- I never really liked red beans either, until last wknd!

bee - thanks. I am kind of curious...

Chris - never tried making them myself. Perhaps I can convince a cendol master to reveal his or her secrets.

anon

...(unfortunately the good stuff isn't exported).

-Indonesian "gula jawa" or "gula merah" can be found in ethnic grocery shops in San Francisco, California. I'm pretty sure one can find the palm sugar in other major cities with big s.e.asian population as well.

Tans

So its all in the gula you say? I have really fond memories of eating (sipping?) cendol in Melaka during my childhood years but I was disappointed when I tried the cendol from this stall across the road from this famous red building (was it St. Paul's church?) when I went back to my hometown. It was tasteless, to say the least! Finishing the bowl of cendol was pure torture! :S

Robyn

Anon - yes, there are a couple brands available in the U.S., Wira is one of them. But the flavor of these really can't compare to that of the sugars made by single, small producers. It's not as complex, not as subtle and, to me, has a wee bit of chemical taste to it. It's like the difference between Bertolli olive oil and that of some specialist producers (or any other mass versus artisan-produced food). The Wira is fine for curry pastes, but I'd never use it in something like cendol, where the unadulterated flavor of the gula is such a strong component.

Unfortunately the small-batch palm sugars are not exported, not yet anyway (a gourmet foods importer needs to discover them, I suppose). Incidentally, Indonesian palm sugar (gula jawa = java palm sugar and gula merah = 'red' sugar which simply distinguishes it from white) is a bit different to Malaysian gula Melaka, and may or may not come from the same variety of palm (coconut).

Tans - well, for *me* it's all in the gula. Others have their own cendol fetishes, I suppose. :-) I know the place across from the church in Melaka. It's the most popular bec. of it's position, and certainly all the tourists go there. A local's opinion: 'Pretty good, but there are much better cendols in Melaka.' We didn't try it this time. Maybe next trip. I don't discount any place simply bec. it's loved by tourists - we are them, after all!

mei

hi there! i'm a 19-year old studying in melbourne, but born and bred in malacca. i'm really glad i came across your blog, it reminds me so much of home. and yes, being malaccan, i'm super-proud that we have the best f**king cendol in the world! by the way, if you haven't already, you need to try malaccan "chinese satay", otherwise known as "jonker street satay".

connie

wow, what great pictures and a great treat! i'm majorly upset that i'm halfway across the world and can't stroll through the streets tasting some cendol myself

Christina

Hi there, I'm a regular visitor to your site and I really enjoyed your experiences with indigenous foods from different places you visited. I grew up eating lots of traditional cakes served with gula jawa, and so far the best gula jawa I tasted is from Manado, North Sulawesi. I hope you can get hold on the gula from this region and give the verdict. Thanks.

Robyn

Hi Mei - do you mean satay celup? Tried it, the one at Capitol Cafe. Yum!

Connie - thanks for the compliments! I think you need to book a ticket to Malaysia. :-)

Christina - thanks for the tip. We've been wanting to get to Sulawesi for a long time, and hopefully will do so this year. We will definately keep an eye out for palm sugar in the markets.

Jem

Have you tried "gula anau" from the "anau" palm? Its the gula version favoured by negeri sembilanese.

Robyn

Jem - yes, we picked some up in Kuala Pilah. It's wonderful, so complex! Many Malaysians aren't aware of its existence and, as far as I know, it's produced only in Negeri Sembilan. Is that true, to your knowledge?

mei

hi. nope, not "satay celup" (although, that's pretty damn good as well). i'm actually talking about the "chinese" version of satay, assuming the normal kind you find is "malay" satay (sweetish, turmeric marinated chicken).

2 big differences; firstly, "chinese" satay is "non-halal" so you get chicken as well as pork, pig intestines (so good), etc.

secondly, unlike "malay" satay, it doesn't have any sugar, so it tastes more savoury. i'm guessing they use slightly different spices to marinade the meat as well.

it's also called "jonker street satay" as the most popular shop used to be in jonker street, but has now moved to an unknown location, and now there are probably only 2 or 3 places in malacca that you can actually find this type of satay.

i'm not sure if the name is right, but try "ming's satay hut", which is on jalan pm 4 (i think), very close to the "sri costa" hotel.

Rasa Malaysia

Robyn, are you sure you guys went to THE cendol stall in Georgetown...I just can't imagina any cendol better than the one's in Penang. I agree with Dave but then what do I know, I haven't tried the one in Melaka. ;)

Glad that you guys were eating good in Penang. You have to do round 2 soon!

Jem

Haven't seen the gula in the other states so far. Could not be sure too whether the homeland where the negeri sembilanese came from (Minangkabau) have the same version.

I certainly liked it better then the gula melaka version.

FatMan Seoul

My fav cendol is the one in Penang, tucked in a narrow lane off Penang Road. Some photos here:

http://fatman-seoul.blogspot.com/2004/07/penang-foodie-3.html

I find the ones in Melaka are more authentic "barebone" cendol i.e. shaved ice, santan, gula melaka & cendol - that's it, ala Nyonya style. Therefore, the coconut milk and gula has to be spot on to get the perfect concoction, otherwise any falterings in those area will show right up.

The Penang style can still get away with it since there's a mish-mash of stuff in that bowl, so any deficiencies in the gula melaka and santan is less obvious.

My thesis .... :P

Justin

Yes, cendols...everyone has their favourite spot. I think I've tried all the cendols in the places mentioned above. The famous penang one is definitely good. Those people seemed to have gotten the ratios down to a pat. But like Penang Island itself, the cendol was made at too fast a pace for my liking. I prefer the Malaccan cendol with all the shaved ice still unmelted and with the gula melaka dribbled on top waiting for the patron to mix it in themselves. It's hard to make a good one but when everything is just perfect it is just the best thing on earth!

My favourite place is on Jonker Street, the two shops side by side. If my memory serves me well the shop on the left when facing them from the road has the better cendol. I love the durian cendol! And they often have gula melaka dispensers on the table for you to add more gula melaka if you need a real sugar hit...

Robyn

mei, Rasa, Fatman - I have to agree with Justin about famous Penang cendol. Assembly is a problem here (for me, anyway). By the time the bowl hit my mits the ice was almost entirely melted. This may or may not account for the fact that the santan seemed not as rich, and the gula not as delicious, as our favorite Melaka version. So, for me Melaka cendol still rules (post upcoming).

The mish-mash is, I think, ais kacang not cendol. I don't care for this -- too much going on and I don't like the flavor of the syrups. Though I do like the sago pearls and the chewy sweet palm seeds.

Jem - Sumatran gula and gula anau are made from the same variety of palm and I suspect you are correct, that there is a Minang connection there. The Sumatran version is darker and a bit softer than gula anau. I couldn't really choose between a very good gula Melaka and a very good gula anau - they really are different animals, both tasty in their way. For cendol, it would have to be gula Melaka. But I have made some very fine blondies (brown sugar brownies) with gula anau!! :-)

Justin - thanks for the tip. Gula on the tables - I like that! But is this the shop across from famous chicken ball rice? If so I'm afraid it's closed, or disappeared. :-(

Gina

hey... i am of indonesian descent, my parents were born in Batavia (Djakarta) and Semarang, Java/Jawa. My grandma used to make a lot of cendol/tjendol, so did my aunts.. we loved it when kids. i am now making a plumbread with freshly picked plums from the farmer's nearby (i am Dutch and live across the border in Belgium) and used gula jawa instead of 'regular' sugar, which in our household is cane sugar. plums, rosemary, some almond essence and gula jawa... you won't stop eating until you feel sorry for yourself it's all eaten...

the tjendol my grandma and aunts made was with santen/coconut milk, the green thingies and gula jawa or gula aren. we got lots of tokos here in the Netherlands, they import stuff from Indonesia, China etc. the gula i use now is from jakarta p.t. wika aksara. i used to try and taste all brands, but didn't really keep track of names etc.
there's also these small pancakes with a sauce of gula jawa, only my grandmother made them, she is from Cheribon/Cirebon, Indonesia. I'll keep track of this site now and should you ever travel to Cirebon, let me know, ok?
best!
Gina

Robyn

Gina - thanks for sharing your memories of cendol and gula! I will definately contact you when (not if) we get to Cirebon.

shikin

Robyn,you are a girl after my own heart! I am having serious Makko Cendol withdrawal. Had some last December after 15 years and the taste is pure heaven. Sweet with slightly bitter undertones all balanced with the saltish santan, all in a cool icy mouthful. Yum! I want to go back to Makko! for the Cendol and the ikan goreng cili.

Ij@y

Dear all,

There is a babanyonya cendol shop at Bukit Rambai Melaka, which many claims is the best.

Have anyone heard of it?

Just want to know since i am from this area.

Pete

I just visited Malacca yesterday & LOVED the food there a lot!! We tried Donald & Lily's chendol, then braved the massive traffic jams to try Nyonya Makko's chendol. Our conclusion: they are NOWHERE near the perfection of Penang's Teochew chendol in Penang Road. THAT must be the best chendol in the world!! We don't have anything as good in Singapore (where Guan Hoe Soon Nyonya restaurant's version is the best)

Robyn

Hi Pete - you are getting around, that's for sure. I can't agree ... IMO the Penang Road Teochew cendol pales in comparison to Makko's. I place much (all) emphasis on the gula Melaka and to my taste buds Makko's is richer and darker.
But, as with many things ... to each his own.
Hope you managed some Teochew seafood while you were in Melaka.

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