Nyonya Cendol Cafe offers money back guarantee for its 'cendol'

A bowl of 'cendol' at Nyonya Cendol Cafe comes with a money back guarantee — Pictures by Choo Choy May
A bowl of 'cendol' at Nyonya Cendol Cafe comes with a money back guarantee — Pictures by Choo Choy May

SUBANG JAYA, March 10 — How good is your bowl of cendol? Are you game to slap on a satisfaction guarantee, like the owners of ?

Started back in January 2016 at The Summit Subang USJ, the owners  — Richie Cheong and his business partner Tracy Eng — are so confident about the quality of their homemade cendol that they provide a money back guarantee.

The idea for the guarantee was thought up by Richie. He explained, "We were new players and we had nothing to lose."

His rationale was since they were an unknown eatery, people may not be keen to try them. This stemmed from his own personal experience. A foodie at heart, he eats out often but most times, his picks are disappointing.

Tracy Eng and Richie Cheong started Nyonya Cendol back in 2016
Tracy Eng and Richie Cheong started Nyonya Cendol back in 2016

With a fail-safe guarantee, Richie believed that people would try the cendol. So far, based on their experience, people do take up the challenge and give the cendol a go. 

Once they taste it, some customers have expressed to Richie that it tastes like cendol did in the old days, when it was homemade and not commercialised. 

As cendol is their main dish, the duo took up to two months of R&D to develop this recipe that uses their own made cendol strands.

"If we don't make our own, we cannot qualify as a cendol specialist. As we were a new player, we tried to be different and original," explained Richie.

The first squeeze of coconut milk or 'santan' is used to achieve the rich, creamy taste for the 'cendol'
The first squeeze of coconut milk or 'santan' is used to achieve the rich, creamy taste for the 'cendol'

When he was 13, Richie who grew up near Tanjung Tualang, picked up this cendol recipe from a friend's mother.

He joined forces with his Banjarese-descent school friend to sell cendol to earn pocket money.

Today, that same recipe has been tweaked to fit the ingredients available. For instance, they went through many brands of rice flour before they settled on one that could produce thick, long cendol strands with a slight bite.

Every day, at their central kitchen, they make cendol strands. The green hue is completely natural, thanks to pandan juice.

Their shaved ice has a fine, fluffy texture, thanks to the use of filtered water ice
Their shaved ice has a fine, fluffy texture, thanks to the use of filtered water ice

To get its jade green colour, they leave the blended pandan leaves and water to steep for a while before using.

The timing is important too. If you leave it overnight, the extract can turn bitter. Moreover, the pandan aroma will be compromised when it is kept out for too long.

As Tracey explained, cooking the rice flour dough over the fire needs a lot of elbow grease. You need to keep stirring until it thickens and bubbles like a volcano crater before it is ready.

No machines are used to form the cendol strands... it is all manually grated on a mould! As they don't use any preservatives, they grate the strands over a bowl of ice cold water. This helps to firm up the strands and preserve it.

Enjoy a bowl of tangy 'assam laksa' served with rice noodles before cooling down with 'cendol'
Enjoy a bowl of tangy 'assam laksa' served with rice noodles before cooling down with 'cendol'
Richie also explained that the coconut milk (santan) used in the cendol is also important. It has to be fresh (no packet ones here!) and only the first squeeze of the grated coconut. This gives a distinct rich, creamy taste to the icy dessert.

Lastly, Richie explained, the shaved ice has to have a fine texture. "You cannot have the ice shaped like a bukit (hill)!" he said referring to shaved ice with a rougher texture.

The fluffy shaved ice is a result of using ice made from filtered water. Even the kidney beans served with the cendol is own-made.

Tracey explained that the commercial ones are too sweet. When combined with its syrup, you get a good bowl of cendol. There are also various toppings for your cendol like durian, cempedak, pulut or nangka.

Accompany your bowl of 'cendol' with their fruit rojak where they make their own sauce
Accompany your bowl of 'cendol' with their fruit rojak where they make their own sauce

Once you have tried their cendol, you will be tempted to order the other dishes like prawn mee, nasi lemak, yam cake, bubur cha cha.

The recipes are from Richie's family vault as his paternal grandmother was a Nyonya from Melaka. Other dishes include favourites like wantan mee and pan mee.

Together with cendol, there must be rojak and assam laksa. Richie refers to the trio as the three musketeers!

The cafe's assam laksa is a good rendition of the Northern version complete with the softer rice noodles.

Their nasi lemak '3 Rasa'combines colourful layers for their coconut rice with a juicy ayam berempah goreng, acar and sambal
Their nasi lemak '3 Rasa'combines colourful layers for their coconut rice with a juicy ayam berempah goreng, acar and sambal

After finishing secondary school, Richie used to sell assam laksa from a motorcycle. An accident involving the hot broth that scarred his back made him stop though. That was when he turned to selling insurance, which is still his main business till today.

Their rojak — a mix of fresh fruits and own-made crispy crackers — uses a not overly viscous sauce made with honey that balances out the pungency from the fermented prawn paste.

The nasi lemak here hits the spot too; choose from chicken or beef rendang or their ayam goreng berempah. The fried chicken is made to a recipe from one of their Indonesian staff.

For something unusual, they offer "3 Rasa" nasi lemak. Here, the rice pulls in the eyes (and cameras) with its blue, green and white layers. The blue tinge is from butterfly pea extract while the green hue is from pandan.  It's got a distinct coconut milk aroma, thanks to the use of santan, which is delicious paired with their aromatic sambal.

Look for the colourful Nyonya Cendol Cafe Elite at The Main Place, one of their outlets in Subang Jaya
Look for the colourful Nyonya Cendol Cafe Elite at The Main Place, one of their outlets in Subang Jaya

For the past 10 years, the duo have dabbled in the F&B industry. While most of their ventures have failed to take off, they seem to have struck gold with Nyonya Cendol Cafe.

Following the success of their original outlet, they expanded to a second place at The Main Place in USJ21. Richie believes this is because they named their business after a signature dish.

"You must have branding and previously the other businesses didn't have a name to represent one unique dish so people didn't know what we were serving," he explained.

He acknowledges that using the word nyonya was part of the pull factor, as people were familiar with it.

On whether they plan to expand beyond Subang Jaya, Richie is hesistant since it may be too far to manage. It's like what Tracy tells her staff, "The boss is our customer, we only give you salary."Nyonya Cendol Cafe

LGX 25, Lower Ground Floor
The Summit Subang USJ
Persiaran Kewajipan USJ1, Subang Jaya
USJ1, Subang Jaya

Nyonya Cendol Cafe Elite
LG-08, Lower Ground Floor,
The Main Place
Jalan USJ 21/10, Subang Jaya

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nyonyacendolcafe/

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