Written by @joehairie Photos by curiostraveller.com team members
Thought of the day: ‘Dessert is like a feel-good song and the best ones make you dance.’-Chef Edward Lee
People talked and keep writing good reviews about this place, a restaurant named as HJ (Haji) Shariff Cendol. Their Cendol is quite famous (since 1930’s) and we wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to try it, we’re in Seremban anyway. We want to see more ‘colors’ of Seremban, this time around in its edible ‘items’. We hope to see and experience that said ‘colors’ at Haji Shariff Cendol @ Seremban, Negeri Sembilan Darul Khusus. For the record, their Cendol is ranked at #1 by TripAdvisor reviewers and that put it as the best dessert in the whole of Seremban Town!
Haji Shariff Cendol is located at Jalan Yam Tuan and next to Jalan Nunis, Seremban. It’s easy to spot the building as it is entirely green in color. People have been reviewing about this place for quite some time already, it’s 2017 now but it’s never too late to say something about this place. The previous reviews bragged about 2 things, Cendol and Rojak/Pasembur. Are they not selling anything else? That’s what we thought of prior coming to this kind of Mamak style restaurant.
For International Readers
To learn more about Cendol in general, click HERE and if you want to know more about Rojak/Pasembur, do click HERE
The restaurant looks like an ordinary Mamak Restaurant with many chairs and tables, maintaining its green color, bet that is their favorite color. According to most reviews, this restaurant is super busy during weekdays (when people are working) and do get busier during weekends. Luckily, we came on the 2nd day of Chinese New Year Public Holiday and that’s 10.30 a.m to be exact. Not so many people during that time but as we were enjoying our Cendol, more people came and lined up at the Cendol counter.
It’s a non air conditioned restaurant but being inside it’s not that bad, fresh air and breeze do keep coming in from all angles. There are plenty ceiling fans. There’s part of the wall being used to hang all the frames, from old newspaper clips to some reminders for the customers. One may learn about the History of Haji Shariff Cendol from that old news clip.
The counters are as what you can see in other Mamak restaurant. One thing that makes them different from any other typical Mamak restaurant, they are extremely super clean, ensuring that all counter-tops are free from any unnecessary elements. Simply put, spotless of any dirt. Nowadays, customers are very alert to hygiene issues, Haji Shariff staffs are aware of that. Therefore, it is safe to say that this restaurant is clean.
We had the opportunity to see how a staff handled one big order, preparing more than 10 cendol serving for takeaway. The staff did the job in record time. We’re amazed on how efficient the staff performed his work, with precision and most importantly, clean. While we lined up, another staff asked for our order. We asked for 2 bowls of Cendol Special (everything inside). He quickly arranged two medium size bowls, put some condiments inside em’, lined em’ up for the coconut milk pouring process!
Realizing that we’re next on the line with only 2 sets of Cendol, the staff seemed to not wanting to disappoint us. There were more than 10 takeaways, remember? How considerate the staff was to us, we smiled as he poured in that super yummy fresh coconut milk. It’s definitely fragrant. From where we were standing, we were able to detect the nice smell of that coconut milk! I wonder how things are during hot sunny day, the line must be pretty long, full of hungry customers; ‘hungry’ for that icy, creamy and soft texture cendol.
Customers pay upon receiving the cendol bowl(s) and so we paid the staff RM4, that’s RM2 per bowl, amazingly cheap! They apply the Self Service concept, so if you come here, don’t just sit there, get up and go to the respective counters and place your order. We did not order any drinks, we focused on that Famous Cendol (a bowl for each of us) and one serving of Rojak/Pasembur.
Inside the Cendol bowl (Special set), there were some red beans, corns, cendol (the green jelly), pulut (glutinous rice) and rich coconut milk. Together, it’s a dessert from heaven. It’s not that sweet but rich in taste and textures. It’s one cold dessert, perfect during hot sunny days. The size of the bowl is medium so one will be able to finish one serving easily, not wasting anything inside. If you need more, line-up and get more bowls, it’s super cheap anyway.
I’ve tasted some great cendol somewhere else. With that said, this is definitely not the best that I had so far but there’s something great about it. While other places tend to make their cendol sweet, Hajo Shariff Cendol is definitely less sweet thus giving some ‘space’ to taste the thickness and textures of the elements inside. When a dessert is just too sweet, one normally ain’t able to finish the whole serving.
That means, having to let go all other things inside it, unable to enjoy whatever being put inside. Personally, I will rate this Cendol as the best one IF they give some other options for customers to put more add-on(s) such as Durian or anything else. For extra add-on(s), I will give perfect score.
While I tend to regard the Cendol as not being the best but great for its ‘not so sweet’ dessert (I like that fact), my Chief Editor @Joehairie, thinks the opposite, he still does. According to him, of all the Cendol he have ever consumed in Malaysia, this is the best one. I asked him for a reason. He said that the Cendol here is ‘not sweet’. So, at least we are on the same page, I said to him.
Our Rating (based on the quality of the Cendol)
Factors: Taste, presentation, price, cleanliness
@Joehairie : 10/10
@Lan (Me) : 9.3/10
Average Score: 9.65/10
The Pasembur (Rojak) had some interesting textures and tastes and we sampled it. It is priced at RM4 (with yellow noodles in it). There are other options (with lower prices) for basic Pasembur. Our Pasembur had hard boiled egg, fried bean curd, fried dough fritters, bean sprouts, shredded cucumber and Sengkuang (starchy tuberous root) and served with sweet and thick mild spicy peanut sauce. One need to mix all elements inside before eating it so that the sauce is spread evenly.
We both think that the sauce; a little bit sweeter for us but overall it tasted great especially for its fresh and crunchy ingredients. Was the Pasembur at Haji Shariff’s the best we had so far? Honestly no. We had better one in Penang, 2 years ago. However, we believe that if the level of sweetness being reduced a little, this might be the best one. We will see about that when we visit this restaurant again in the near future.
Our Rating (based on the quality of the Pasembur)
Factors: Taste, presentation, price, cleanliness
@Joehairie : 9.5/10
@Lan (Me) : 9.5/10
Average Score: 9.5/10
We scored the Cendol 9.65 and for the Pasembur 9.5, bringing it to 9.57 in average score. Giving a score above 9 is one indication and sign of our thoughts that Haji Shariff’s products are of high quality. While there are some little flaws, we believe they will improve a lot in the near future especially when they themselves have been selling the products for quite a long time. Someone will eventually modify in order to upgrade the quality of the said products.
We’re extremely amazed by the overall cleanliness of this restaurant. Counters, floors and walls are spotless. Amazingly immaculate given that the restaurant is quite open to the elements outside. We seated and enjoyed our Cendol/Pasembur with full of confidence, fearing nothing about any hygiene issues. The staffs did their work in full speed but with full alert towards maintaining cleanliness. Used plates and bowls were picked up soon as customers left their tables.
We both are very particular about hygiene when it comes to choosing eateries. Here, at Haji Shariff’s, we felt safe and ate with no worries at all. For its cleanliness, we gave a perfect score, 10 out of 10 to Haji Shariff’s restaurant. This is one common restaurant that we dare to recommend to all of you for two reasons, it’s clean and the food, worth trying. We heard that there’s another branch of this brand in Seremban 2, however we did not visit it due to time constraints but will certainly do later this year.