Experiences - Asia

Must-eat in Straits – Ais Kacang

Ais Kachang is a Malaysian dessert which is best suited for the hot humid weather of the region. It is also common across the region including Thailand, Singapore and Brunei. This dessert is so different in that it uses shaved ice as the main topping. While this is quite common in Asia and Southeast Asia, it is practically unheard of in the Western world, where cream usually is the proverbial cherry on top.

Ais Kacang (Shaved Ice)

Image Courtesy: Moshe Reuveni used under the Creative Commons Licence

In Ais Kacang, the ice is grated finely before being added on top of thick cream made of condensed milk. Then follows several spoonfuls of thickly coated syrup, a handful of tropical fruits finely chopped up and maybe a few nuts if the vendor is feeling a bit creative, as is usually the case with Southeast Asian cuisine.

You could say Ice Kacang is a modern adaptation of the small ice ball or ice cone. It comes with jelly, red beans, sweet corn and palm seeds. Syrups are the main attraction on this dessert – they come in all kinds of colours such as bright green, orange, pink, blue and even deep brown and purple. The whole dish is served in a bowl or a tall glass, making it look like a colourful fruit cocktail.

Ice Kacang is sold mostly by hawkers and street vendors in Singapore and Malaysia. These sellers make sure the dessert is prepared perfectly; the ice seamlessly melds with the fruits and syrups, and melts in your mouth, creating the best sweet tasting dish in existence. So, do not miss out on this must-eat in straits – Ice Kacang.

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