Another Little Secret !
I have a little secret ! When I was a young boy in secondary school, I used to sneak out once or twice a week for my own secret little pleasures. It's not what you think !
You see, my dad used to pick me up after school. It was convenient, but then I would lose the opportunity to enjoy my own little pleasure. So I used to look forward to the one or two days in the week when I had extracurricular activities in the afternoon and had to take the bus home. After the activities I would walk the 1 km or so to the bus station, and next to the bus station was the Open Air Hawker Centre. Inside was a stall which holds the secret to my childhood happiness.
The stall was Chang Swee Kang - an ice kacang stall serving the best ice kacang in Kuching. After so many years - it hasn't changed a bit, and the same uncle is still making the ice kacang. You cannot imagine how much enjoyment you can get from a bowl of this iced dessert which used to cost only 50 cents. Now the price has gone up to around RM 1.50, but it's still cheap !
I always order the iced kacang with cendol - in Chinese it's called "ang tau chien lut". "Kacang" is the red beans which has been cooked in syrup, and "cendol" is a green jelly noodle made from starch. These are topped with shaved ice and a thick dollop of palm sugar syrup, and then coconut milk is added. Some people ask for skimmed milk instead of the coconut milk, but to me that's a bastardization of the original.
This simple combination of a few ingredients is so tasty and refreshing that to this day, it is still one of my favourite desserts. How is it that a dish so simple can vary so much from stall to stall ? I guess the secret is in the ingredients. Each ingredient must be perfect to produce the perfect ice kacang cendol, and Chang Swee Kang is still the best in town.
The Open Air Hawker Centre. It used to be the old fire station of Kuching - hence the tower.
Inside is quite bright and airy due to the clerestory windows.
The stall still looks exactly the same as before.
The ingredients in front, and the trusty old ice shaver at the back.