A guide to finding the top tong sui in town.
Tong sui, literally meaning ‘sweet water,’ is a delectable snack unique to Cantonese cuisine. Here are six stalls and outlets in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya where you can savour any of these soupy or custard-like desserts. Certain types of tong sui, such as leng chee kang, are thought to have ‘cooling’ properties that can help with the body’s internal balance.
Tong sui cart, KL
Mr Khu has been plying his trade on a corner of Ipoh Road for nearly 50 years. Operating from a simple cart, his authentic home-style desserts have remained unchanged over the decades. He’s able to make 10 types of tong sui, with different ones offered each day. Must-try temptations include the refreshing leng chee kang, the creamy barley and the dried bean curd with generous amounts of gingko nuts. Regular customers stream to this stall hoping to catch Mr Khu serving bubur cha cha, loosely translated as ‘dancing porridge.’
Section 17 tong sui stall, PJ
There’s a variety of stalls at this alfresco hawker food destination that’s only open at night, but you can’t miss the tong sui business; it’s the one with huge metal pots of sweet pastes and soups bubbling away merrily. Red bean delicacies, peanut paste, bubur cha cha and leng chee kang are offered alongside more unusual fruit and vegetable concoctions such as watermelon with snow fungus and wolfberries with winter melon.
Pudu Wai Sek Kai, KL
When you see a name like Wai Sek Kai (Glutton Street), which means ‘glutton street’ in Cantonese, you know you’ve hit the jackpot for good food. A visit to this old KL neighbourhood is an experience that will reward the adventurous with local fare that has fed the community for decades. An unnamed stall at an alley intersection is a family business – now into its third generation – that’s famous for chee cheong fun (steamed rice sheets doused in curry sauce). Have a plate and complete your meal with a bowl of milky bubur cha cha.
Ah Tuan Ee, PJ
The Nyonyas draw on their Malay and Chinese heritage for their renowned desserts, including sweet, sticky kuih and indulgent soupy desserts. One childhood favourite is bubur cha cha, which Ah Tuan Ee does best – rich, thick and full of yummy ingredients. It’s a weekend special at this Nyonya restaurant, so call ahead to check for availability. Other outstanding desserts here include red bean soup and gloriously decadent black glutinous rice drizzled with pure coconut cream.
Kedai Kopi Khong, PJ
At Kedai Kopi Khong, you’ll find a busy teatime stall selling an assortment of local snacks to assuage late-afternoon hunger pangs. It has a signboard with a list of tong sui, including classics such as red bean, green bean, bubur cha cha, wheat and barley beancurd with gingko. Cheap and cheerful, this should hit the spot for the sweet tooth, but if you want something savoury too, try the yam cakes, chee cheong fun or plain fried meehoon with a splash of curry.
K.T.Z. Food, KL
Dessert shop K.T.Z is well-known for its tong sui and fried snacks. If you’re hankering for red bean soup or black sesame paste at midnight, this is the place to go. For a small surcharge, you can enhance your dessert with tong yuen (little round glutinous rice balls with a sweet stuffing). Customers also flock here for the shaved ice desserts complemented by flavoured syrups and fruits like mango and honeydew.