TV SMITH's Dua Sen: Jolly Green Worms
TV Smith's Dua Sen
TV Smith's Dua Sen. The politically incorrect irregular columnist combines his idiosyncratic observations and tangential commentary into a blog...


by TV Smith

Cendol is the local alphabet soup with only one letter. The "I" is made from green strips of pandan flavoured rice flour. Looking more like a serving of green worms, the drink remains popular even with the recent onslaught of fancy ice-blended concoctions. Served with shaved ice, coconut milk and fragrant syrupy brown sugar, it is a refreshing cold drink on a hot afternoon. It is by no means a thirst quencher though; one gets thirstier with each sip.

The drink is usually sold at the roadside by a Indian hawker with a pushcart and a manual ice-shaver. Outside its traditional domain, the jolly green worms can usually be found swimming in a bowl of melted ABC at food courts and hawker centers. You can also find cendol listed on the menus of Penang/Nyonya restaurants and Malaysian restaurants abroad where it is promoted as an exotic dessert. Having tried different variations of the drink in neighbouring Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, I still prefer the local version.

Thus, I was curious when I heard of a shop dedicated to cendol entirely, somewhere in Klang. Friends from Klang would boast that they regularly savour the best cendol in our galaxy, leaving me green with envy. Not anymore. I was walking along the streets of Klang yesterday, when I stumbled into this shop, quite by accident. The name of this famed establishment is as unimaginative as it is intuitive. Simply known as Cendol Klang, the signboard proudly declares its 30-year heritage in a tag line underneath.

The interior of the shop is typically Mamak-ish with four rows of tables and immoveable stools. One thing rather peculiar was the number of 'single' men and women patrons. There were many who sat alone, slurping sheepishly and silently. Hey, maybe this is Klang's version of a singles bar. If it is, those clichéd pick-up lines probably would not worked here, too.

"Can I buy you a drink?"
"No thanks, Mr Kiamsiap, it's only one ringgit...."

Well, even if you feel flashy and generous, you won't be getting anywhere either. Cendol's the only drink served here and the stools are bolted to the floor.

I have been consuming cendol standing up and outdoors for most of my life. This was a different experience altogether. There is nothing as fulfilling as sitting among rows of fellow cendol connoisseurs, enjoying the drink under a roof. The taste? The taste, for me, was rather ordinary and even less appealing than those selling around KL. The overly thick coconut milk resulted in a strong santan smell that drowned the normally aromatic brown sugar. Maybe, that's the way Klang cendol aficionados like it. I had mine plain but you can try it with a few other flavours such as Giant Red Beans, Pulut, Ice-Cream and Mixed (just like ABC).

What's worse than Hail Amir singing without Uji Rashid? A cendol stall operating without the rojak man. I'm pleased to inform you that this specialty shop does serve rojak and mee goreng as side dishes. The shop is also fitted with several overhanging, overbearing instructional signs (pic right). A likely indication of the brisk business they do during peak hours. Like many other coffee-shop owners, their instinctive and automatic reply was "Talipon Rosak" when I inquired if they have a phone. So, sorry folks, I have only the address:

Cendol Klang
78 Jalan Nanas,
Opens daily from 11:30am to 7:30pm
(Located next to Ayamas & Hai O Chinese Pharmacy)

All text, photographs by and copyright © TV SMITH.

© 2003 TV SMITH
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