We definitely wanted good Malaysian desserts during our limited time in Kuala Lumpur, and Pandan Leaf turned up on our search. It reviewed well, and their extended opening hours to 1am made it additionally appealing. Located along the well-known food street of Jalan Alor, the stall is nestled in among the others, so you may walk right past if you’re not looking out for it. They only have a few tables, and like the other stalls, seating is outdoors, so be prepared for the tropical humidity.
We were shown to seats as soon as we indicated to the stall owners that we would like dessert. Bright pictures at the front of the serving area illustrated most of their available desserts. Laminated menus were brought to the table as we were seated that showed the same, as well as listing a few more options.
One of the owners recommended the Nyonya Pandan Leaf Pancake in particular. The first time we visited, we had a Sago Gula Melaka with it. On a return visit, we had their Signature Pandan Leaf Cendol.
The Sago Gula Melaka was served in a dish, as per their picture, in a pool of coconut milk, with the gula melaka syrup drizzled over the top. As it was placed on the table, the vendor told us to tell them if we would like more coconut milk or more gula melaka. After the first couple of spoons, we decided that we would like it sweeter, and requested more syrup. The vendor cheerfully brought a little cup of syrup to us, and asked if we would like more coconut milk as well. As there was already plenty of coconut milk for the pudding, we politely declined. The sago held together well, if a little more firmly compacted than we would typically like. Still, you could discern the individual little sago pearls when you had a bite, rather than it just being a clumped mass. Those who don’t like it too sweet will appreciate that they are not too heavy-handed with the gula melaka to begin with. Those who have a sweeter tooth will appreciate that the vendors are happy to provide more syrup to accommodate tastes.
The Signature Pandan Leaf Cendol certainly looked like more than your typical cendol in the picture. Cendol normally just has shaved ice, coconut milk, gula melaka syrup, and green jelly strands (the eponymous cendol). They do offer a classic version, but this amped-up version had sweet corn, red beans, glutinous rice balls, and peach amber. It was much more colourful than a standard cendol, with the sweet corn and red beans adding yellows and reds, and the butterfly pea adding a more unusual blue hue to the glutinous rice balls. This was a lovely chilled dessert to have in the warm weather. These components gave the dessert a good variety of texture, from the juicy pop of the sweet corn kernals to the springy chew of the glutinous rice balls. Importantly though, the central component of the dessert, the cendol, was not glossed over. This was better done than in all the other places we had cendol on our trip. The cendol strands were supple, clearly not just defrosted from frozen (an issue at a few places), and actually tasted of pandan (unlike other places where it was just a token green, including a place that was actually called Penang Cendol). An additional little detail was that the cendol was served in a vacuum insulated metal bowl, which meant that the dessert was kept chilled, so just that bit slower to melt in the tropical heat.
Their Nyonya Pandan Leaf Pancake was presented like slices of cake, rather than what you expect of a typical pancake. Each serving consisted of four piping hot pieces of this. The texture was airy, soft, and springy, a little like french toast. The outside surfaces had been browned, and were lightly crisp. In between were layers of kaya, adding a delicate sweetness with coconutty aroma. This was a deftly done dessert, deceptively simple but definitely delightful. The vendor explained to us that the dessert takes about two hours to make. Fruitfully spent time.
Though the setup was simple (street hawker style), Pandan Leaf produced delicious desserts. The vendor made us feel welcome each time we visited, and clearly wanted customers to enjoy their food. It is easy enough to get to via public transport, even for a tourist. Take the train to Bukit Bintang station, walk out via exit A, and the Jalan Alor food street is right there. Pandan Leaf is not too far down that end of the street, and will be on your right hand side as you walk down. Google Maps will be helpful if you need more detailed directions. It is certainly worth the visit if you’re in Kuala Lumpur.
Price point: RM 6 to 9 for the desserts we had (so about $2 to $3 AUD at the conversion rate when we were there). The most expensive is their Durian Cendol and RM 23, if you’re into that.
Address: 78 Jalan Alor, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
Phone: +60 16-255 8845
Website: Pandan Leaf