Dig in to the best bowl of cendol in Penang.
Last year, when we went to Penang during Chinese New Year, our new friend Criz took us around to some of his favorite eating places, including the Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul stall on Lebuh Keng Kwee in the middle of Georgetown. Since we came back to Penang this year, returning to this stall was a priority. As it turns out, we were able to visit it twice during our trip!
What is Cendol?
Cendol (pronounced CHEN-dul) is a popular Southeast Asian dessert consisting of a bowl of shaved ice, gula melaka (palm sugar syrup), coconut milk, kidney beans, and cendol – little green pandan-flavored worm-shaped rice flour noodles. (Yes, cendol the dessert is made with cendol the noodle. Confused? Don’t worry about it.) It is a simple dish, so the quality of the ingredients (especially the noodles and the gula) has to shine through.
Tub Full of Fresh Cendol Noodles
When we arrived at the stall after lunch, business was brisk. Dozens of people crowded in front and around the stall, either waiting to place their order or slurping down their bowls under what little shade they could find from the hot Malaysian sun. The fact that cars, vans and motorcycles squeezed by mere inches from the patrons made jockeying for position even more important.
The staff manning the stall were like a well-oiled machine. They were very efficient in preparing each bowl of ice and adding on the ingredients. The stall’s owner was in charge of ladling out the cendol noodles and coconut milk before serving the bowl up. In the background, other staff were busily washing dishes and spoons, digging out new blocks of ice, or warming up new batches of ingredients.
At this peak hour, the stall’s owner was really churning out those bowls of cendol. We estimated that he made around 50 bowls of cendol in the span of 10 minutes! However on our second visit, we arrived in the early evening when the crowds had died down. Service was more calm but still efficient. I was able to take a video of them preparing our four bowls:
For the “authentic” experience, you can choose to have your cendol right there on the street. However the intense heat of the day can quickly turn your shaved ice dessert into a cool drink with bits of ice floating in it. Fortunately, the stall owner has purchased a shoplot just a short walk down the lane, where you can eat your cendol in air-conditioned comfort…IF you can find a seat!
Another nice thing about the shoplot is that you can get a delicious, hot bowl of assam laksa from the stall right in front of the door. Since it was close to dinner time on our second visit, we couldn’t resist. The laksa here is quite good. I went back and forth between my sweet, cooling cendol and the savory-spicy laksa until both bowls were empty.
Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul Stall
Lebuh Keng Kwee at Penang Road
One block away from Komtar
Here are some other reviews of Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul: Just Sharing, Pikelet and Pie. My Food Fetish visited their shiny new cafe at Komtar Walk. Robyn of EatingAsia is a cendol snob, and she says Penang Road’s cendol pales in comparison to what she’s had in Malacca. Even so, I wish they’d open up a location here in Kuching!
How about you? Where is YOUR favorite cendol shop?
I am entering this post in the Muhibbah Malaysian Monday roundup, created and hosted by Sharon of Test with a Skewer. This is the second post in a series of Penang food that we’ll be putting up, hopefully every Monday. Don’t want to miss any of them; be sure to subscribe to our blog via RSS or email!