Image: The Straits Times

Whenever I have been out and about under Singapore’s raging and unrelenting midday sun, I crave icy cold cheng tng.

The sweet and refreshing dessert soup, made with dried longans and other ingredients such as dried persimmon and red dates, never fails to quench my parched mouth and throat.

Perhaps it is the soup’s cooling effect, a traditional Chinese medicine theory, that helps to rebalance the yin and yang.

Newton Food Centre’s 88 San Ren Cold & Hot Dessert stall is one of two places in the Bukit Timah area I go to for my cheng tng fix. The other is at Adam Road Food Centre. Both are popular with residents in the area.

Although I have had cheng tng from the Newton stall countless times, it still surprises me each time I tuck in.

That is because every bowl ($2) comes with one canned longan and one canned lychee.

The inclusion of canned fruit is not traditional, but I love it.

The lure and thrill of finding hidden treasure in the mound of shaved ice excites me in the way a child will salivate while unwrapping a lolly.

I enjoy the soup’s smooth and soothing flavour of dried longan and the pearls of barley always have just the right amount of bite to them.

While the soup has pieces of dried white fungus in bite-sized chunks, there is never too much of it.

If you have more of a sweet tooth, have the cheng tng hot instead. Not only is the soup sweeter, but the flavours are also more intense.

The stall has other desserts such as bubur chacha ($2), a coconut soup with sweet potato, taro and sago; tau suan ($2), a sweet and sticky dessert made with split mung beans; and red rubies ($2.50), a Thai dessert made with water chestnut served in coconut milk.

Where: 88 San Ren hot & cold dessert
Address: Newton Food Centre, Newton Circus, 500 Clemenceau Avenue North, 01-05
Open: Noon to about 10pm daily, with ad-hoc days off
Rating: 3

This story was first published on The Straits Times, 3 April 2015.