I have never considered this question before until now. Maybe you haven’t too.
This is the question: How should Chendol be taken? With shaved ice like the one in the picture or as a soup-drink with crushed ice, like the ones they serve by the road side in Malaysia? In all my years of eating Chendol, I have never asked the question. In fact, I did not ask the question until I had the answer.
I have decided, after taking this particular Chendol that it should, it must, be taken this way. Let me explain why.
When you eat Chendol as a soup-drink, everything is mixed up and all you get to enjoy is the taste of cold coconut milk with Gula Melaka. When you take it without mixing it all up, you can actually get to appreciate the different elements of the Chendol plus the texture of the finely shaved ice as it melts in your mouth. This is particularly delightful when you have really good Gula Melaka. Oh yes, the lady boss, Helen is so particular about her Gula Melaka that she insists on driving to Malacca to buy the best stuff there to bring home.
Before she started business about 4 years ago, Helen shared with us how she went up to Malacca to taste test several of the top Chendol stalls there so that she has a Gold Standard to compare with. She believes that she has a Chendol that can stand up to the best ones in Malacca. She makes the Chendol herself,using only pandan leaves and passes it through a special Chendol strainer which she also managed to procure in Malacca. Then the other important element is the freshly squeezed coconut milk and the quality extra large red beans. For me the most striking thing is still the shaved ice and the Gula Melaka. So super shiok, it forever changed my thinking about Chendol. Went back twice in a week and still thinking about it. 4.6/5
When Helen set up this stall, she simply wanted to create desserts that she enjoyed as a child ie the traditional way. So she adds dried persimmons and winter melon in her Cheng Tng and not any of the modern stuff like agar agar or jelly. Not easy to find such Cheng Tng nowadays. 4.25/5
Best Chendol I have eaten in years. Make sure when you order that you stress that you want the finely shaved ice. Sometimes after making cold Cheng Tng, they might forget to set the ice shaver back to fine!