Enjoying a cool bowl of Ais Kacang used to be an experience in itself – from the spinning of the ice-shaver by hand to the pouring of colourful syrups on the mountain of ice collected.
Although the experience is no longer the same now thanks to technological advancement (the ice-shaver is now electrically-operated), the sweet taste of a full bowl of Ais Kacang is still a favourite of locals and tourists alike.
Different versions of Ais Kacang are available from state to state but the Melaka variety boasts a secret weapon – its superior Gula Melaka.
Derived from coconut palm, it is more smoky than saccharine, with a caramel and toffee edge. Imagine that on a colourful pile of ice on a blisteringly hot day!
In Melaka, the restaurant to visit for a decadent bowl of Ais Kacang or Ice Pak Poh is the peculiarly named Ming Chong Hygienic Ice Café, along Jalan Bunga Raya, a street once infamously known as gangster’s paradise.
At first glance, the café may come across as any other hole-in-the-wall, but within its walls is history of more than 70 years.
Here, rough blocks of ice are shaven into wafer-thin flakes for the Ais Kacang and Cendol, using a cast-iron contraption passed on from the shop’s founder, the father of the current shop owner.
The façade is humble, even retaining the signage style of yesteryear. The walls are lined with framed photos of visiting politicians and other local leaders, alongside newspaper cuttings full of praise for Min Chong’s icy goodness.
Plastered in the pictures are the faces of the proprietors standing with these dignitaries, the same elderly couple that will be making the local dessert and serving it to you.
This article first appeared in uppre.com