Street Sweets Cheng Sim Ei Gastronomer Lifestyle

Street Sweets

Written by Kompit Panasupon

June issue ‘Dessert’, 2023

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I’ve never really been a dessert person. Sorry, Claire Saffitz, but the idea of having tiramisu, ice cream, or cheesecake after a meal just doesn’t appeal to me at all. Sometimes though, I do get a craving for sweetness. It’s usually in the late afternoon on a hot day or late at night while being forced to watch Claire Saffitz make a cake I wouldn’t care for, and that’s when I would typically order from Cheng Sim Ei.

Named after the type of desserts they sell, Cheng Sim Ei is a renowned franchise of sweet Thai condiments served with shaved iced. Two shops claim to be the original, using the same logo and tagline: a licking smiley face with the words “earth-shaking fame”. I tried to dig deeper into the story, but alas, I couldn’t find any tea for you to sip with the sweets—sorry. Maybe they are siblings now estranged. In that case, I hope they have a system in place to split the dividends from their more than 50 branches nationwide, which require five tonnes of coconut sugar daily for a turnover of at least 4 million baht on a “normal” day.

Cheng Sim Ei Exterior Gastronomer Lifestyle

Now back to the sweets—I only indulge in one combination from Cheng Sim Ei, and that’s the tubtim grob (sweet water chestnut in tapioca) and macapuno (gelatinous coconut) in sweet coconut milk and shaved ice. No other variation accepted.

I say “combination” because if you don’t know what Cheng Sim Ei is like, think of a Sizzler salad bar, except everything is drenched in some sort of sweet sauce, whether it’s caramelised palm sugar, sweet coconut, or pandan- or longan-infused syrup. The “everything” you can choose from comprises sweetened fruits, dried fruits, grass jelly, steamed taro, coconut flesh, and tapioca-based jellies, to name just a few. Make your picks to combine with crunchy shaved ice.

What I love about my tubtim grob and gelatinous coconut is the harmony of the textures. Tubtim grob’s smooth tapioca outer layer is contrasted by the crunchy, sweet chestnut inside. Meanwhile, the macapuno—a rare, naturally occurring gelatinous coconut—gives an extra dimension with added fragrant coconut aroma. Together with the lightly-sweetened coconut milk and tiny flakes of shaved ice on top, it’s simply heaven.

Cheng Sim Ei Thai Street Sweet

While sweet snacks like these can be found everywhere on the streets of Thailand as well as in all the mall foodcourts, I don’t think you’ll find as large of a variety of condiments and toppings as you would at Cheng Sim Ei.

So, why not go and find the closest one to you and create your own bowl of cooling Thai sweets? They certainly make life in this hot, humid weather more bearable. And, even though Cheng Sim Ei is everywhere, these are the two locations which claim to be the originals, in case you are intrigued: Cheng Sim Ee Bantad Tong and Cheng Sim Ee Saphan Lueang.

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