Stay cool with creamy, fragrant yam shaved ice and 'cendol' at Setapak's Kento Cafe

KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — With the suffocating heat, I have been craving for shaved ice desserts to cool down.

Hence, my mission for this week was a trek to Kento Cafe in Setapak. The small shop is operated by Ken Wong and his family.

After 20 years working in Japan, the Melakan decided to open his own F&B venture (Fun fact: Kento was Wong’s nickname in Japan).

Enamoured with a famous cendol place in Petaling Jaya, he would make a trip from Selayang at least three times a week to get his cool fix.

At his own place, much care was taken by him to ensure the shaved ice desserts are superb.

Headlining the cafe is the rather unusual Signature Yam Shaved Ice (RM9.90). The mound of shaved ice is doused with coconut milk and crowned with creamy yam paste, pink sago pearls and cendol jelly.

Mix the whole concoction up to enjoy the not too sweet yam with the cold creamy coconut milk shaved ice. You will find some red beans hidden inside the bowl too.

The Cendol is very good with light, airy shaved ice.

The Cendol is very good with light, airy shaved ice.

While I enjoyed the yam version, I felt that the Cendol (RM6) was very good with a generous topping of their not too sweet but soft red bean paste.

Usually I’m not a fan of red beans in my cendol but I enjoyed this version with the cendol jelly and the fragrant shaved ice laced with gula Melaka syrup and coconut milk.

They also have Ice Kacang (RM6.50) which I didn’t try but it looked like it came with a generous topping of corn and cendol jelly.

What makes the desserts here exceptional is the texture of their shaved ice.

Under the toppings, the mound of shaved ice is light, airy — melting instantly on the tongue.

With the yam dessert, it tends to melt even faster since it’s doused in fresh coconut milk.

You really get to taste the fluffiness of the shaved ice with the cendol as the ice is drizzled with a fragrant gula Melaka syrup and coconut milk. I ate it on its own without mixing it up.

There's also a savoury menu with items like their take on ‘nasi lemak’ with a creamy Rendang Chicken with potatoes.

There’s also a savoury menu with items like their take on ‘nasi lemak’ with a creamy Rendang Chicken with potatoes.

The ice dissolves on the tongue, allowing you to taste the sweet, floral flavours from the syrup mingling with the creamy coconut milk.

Wong tells me he makes his own ice blocks to achieve the fine, airy texture. He didn’t like how the commercial ice blocks had traces of a chemical-like smell, hence he decided to make his healthier version.

The toppings like yam and red bean paste are all cooked in house, so he can control the level of sweetness. It’s ideal for the Asian palate, since it’s not sinfully sweet. With the yam paste, he opts for the usage of Thai sourced yams rather than local ones.

Being a Melakan, he was incredibly fussy about the gula Melaka. It took him almost a year to source for the right supplier for his shop.

Even the coconut milk is rich and pure, making it an incredibly satisfying bowl when combined with the gula Melaka syrup for the cendol.

Wong is very particular that the coconut milk must not be mixed with water, since it will jeopardise the taste of his shaved ice desserts.

You can also find an assortment of Nyonya kuih, New York cheesecake, and vanilla sponge cake. There’s also various tarts and cream puffs sourced from Bakesmores.

For lunch, the crowd is a mix of youngsters and older folks.

For lunch, the crowd is a mix of youngsters and older folks.

It’s not only sweet treats here as they also have a menu of savoury items to chase away your hunger pangs. These range from full blown meals to snacks.

For something more substantial, there’s soups, sambal shrimp chicken, asam chicken, sweet and sour chicken, ginger onion chicken with rice.

They also do their take on nasi lemak served with Rendang Chicken. There’s also a Vege Fish Rice.

I tried their Rendang Chicken (RM16.90) which has a homestyle air with a piece of chicken slathered in a not overly spicy sauce that is not too rich with santan. You also get soft potatoes.

I liked how the fried peanuts and ikan bilis were prepped as these were crispy. It’s definitely healthier as they give you more greens than the usual nasi lemak offerings, as there’s lady’s fingers, cucumber and cherry tomatoes.

If you want something lighter, there’s Mee Siam and Fruit Rojak.

Take note, the cafe is pork free.

Find the eatery around the Prima Setapak area.

Find the eatery around the Prima Setapak area.

Kento Cafe

No. 12, Jalan Prima Setapak 3, Taman Setapak, Off Jalan Genting Klang, Kuala Lumpur.

Open: 11am to 8pm. Closed on Monday.


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