You could say that the Cendol Songkok Tinggi is a thriving family business in Seremban and that would be true, but it is much, much, more than that - it is a thriving kampung business.
Founder of Cendol Songkok Tinggi, retired army officer Daud bin Othman started the operation in 2010, as his son Dani explains.
“Dad needed something to do after retirement as he was getting bored, so for the first six months he started playing around making and selling cendol, experimenting with the ratios of different things, pandan leaves and the flour ingredients, and we supplied a few clients who were mainly friends and relatives getting married in and around the kampong,” he said.
Word of mouth soon got around of the quality of Daud’s cendol and one year later the family business represented Negeri Sembilan at the MAHA Agriculture and Horticultural show.
It was a great opportunity and step up for the fledgling company, going from catering to 10,000 servings per week to 100, 000 servings per day.
They started to need larger, industrial sized equipment to produce larger quantities.
“ It was a big shift up for us and dad wanted to keep the business local and manage it all here, so we had the community volunteering for a while and from then on started employing people,” said Dani.
And they have been doing that ever since, going from strength to strength, now employing up to 80 people from their local kampong in Jiboi-a real kampong affair.
“We have all sorts of workers, mostly elderly retired people to students from colleges nearby. There is one kid who came from another kampong near the UTC who cycled over here and stood outside and just watched us work. After a while we asked him if he wanted to work and he came in. He likes it here and he’s about 14yo and attends a special school nearby, but he only comes when mum lets him.”
Dani’s mum Ashidah bte Asnan, and he, a media-broadcasting graduate, also work six days a week for the business, managing the administration, production, catering and their popular shopfront in Kampong Jiboi.
If you haven’t been to their café shopfront in Jiboi yet, put it on your list of things to do.
It is located in one of those wonderful urban-country style suburbs that includes the most basic of homes that were built when tin mining took place years and years ago, but a lot have been renovated, or kept healthy over the years. Think of it as Seremban’s version of Kampong Baru in KL.
For Westerners like myself it is the type of funky joint we would relax, eat and drink in at Bali or somewhere, in comfortable raised wooden Gazebo’s, sheltered and cooled by some very large Rambutan trees.
The cendol, available at the Cendol Songkok Tinggi café at Jiboi is in my opinion, absolutely delicious – by that I mean, it is not too sweet and has real coconut cream, there is absolutely no watering down of this delicious dessert here.
You can also buy Mee Rebus, Laksa Johor, Nasi Lemak and a variety of cendols of course, as well as drinks and other traditional delicacies.
Try it out you won’t be disappointed and don’t be surprised if Dani or his mum and dad saunter over and have a chat, even the waiters there are friendly!
The café is open from 9am-3pm and 4pm-6 pm every Tuesday to Thursday and 9am-6pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Find them on Google Maps https://goo.gl/maps/9fA3E9AqQfA2